By Jason Hoekema
Another Ava High School student will be moving on to continue their education and compete at the collegiate level.
Kate McDonald signed a letter of intent to attend and compete for Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri.
Culver-Stockton is a private school, but does participate in the Heart of America Athletic Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, or NAIA.
The NAIA is comprised of 250 schools across the nation, representing more than 60,000 students.
Culver-Stockton was ranked as a top college for recruits by Next College Student Athlete.
McDonald is a two-year high school varsity volleyball libero, a crucial defensive position requiring agility and a drive to make every possible dig when opponents attempt spikes and kills.
Her ability to move and her drive for making saves what stood out to her future coach, Daniel Cabrera.
“Specifically on defense, she has a very strong lateral movement to both her right and left,” said Cabrera. “Most importantly, she hustles. There isn’t a play I’ve seen in her highlight clips and from communication from other coaches that she is going to let a ball drop. She goes after every ball and defense comes first.”
McDonald’s athleticism isn’t all that got her into college. At a school like this, academics are very important.
“Most importantly, academics is the first thing we look for,” said Cabrera. “The culture around Culver-Stockton is of smart, intelligent students. We believe we have a team that encourages each other academically, we believe that our students will be well-prepared for the years after college.”
With her final high school volleyball season behind her, McDonald is looking forward to what is in store for her in Canton.
“I’m excited, it’s an amazing opportunity,” said McDonald. “Coach Cabrera has made it feel like I will be greeted well. It’s a small place, so it’s great. I think I’ll fit in well.”
Behind McDonald has been her mother, Amy Litwiller, who has been part of McDonald’s high school experience.
“It’s had its ups and downs, for sure,” said Litwiller. We want them to work hard, and play hard, and practice hard. Losing seasons come and that’s hard because you have to be there for them. She has always played so hard, played with all her heart even if they were losing.”
With those swings of victory and defeat is a bond created with McDonald by sharing the court with her teammates.
“This team has meant a lot to me over the past four years,”said McDonald. “They’ve been like family, like sisters. It’s a great bond we have and it’s something I will really miss.”
As McDonald signed the remaining documents following the ceremony, her mother was right there to catch the moments on her phone.
“(I am) very proud,” said Litwiller. “I am looking forward to this next phase of her life. I am really excited for her.”