On May 16, a group of people gathered at Iron Fork Cafe to watch Lauren Eley sign a scholarship to play volleyball at Toccoa Falls College.
Family, friends, teammates and coaches were on hand to witness the occasion.
But when Eley signed the scholarship, she did more than commit to play at the next level. She also made history.
Upon signing the scholarship, Eley became the first volleyball player at Lake Oconee Academy to sign to play at the next level.
This is an honor that Eley actually aimed for back in sixth grade.
“I’ve seen LOA build this amazing volleyball program from the very bottom,” Eley said. “Being the first LOA volleyball player to sign to continue my sports career is surreal.”
Eley concludes her career as a Lady Titan with stellar individual statistics.
In 128 sets played, Eley recorded 328 kills, 23 total blocks, 212 digs and 131 aces.
According to her head coach, though, her impact on the team goes far beyond the stat line.
“Great leader, great person, great player,” head coach Chris Ingle said in a Facebook post on May 16. “The best example for our younger players that I could ever ask for. It has been an absolute honor to coach her. Lauren Eley is a forever captain!”
Ingle even said he plans to take next year’s team to watch Eley play next fall.
Eley intends on keeping up with the Lady Titans’ volleyball team next year, too. And it’s all because of the impact Ingle and the program has had on her career.
It has been Ingle’s influence, in particular, on her career that’s made all the difference for Eley.
“He doesn’t only teach volleyball skills, but life skills that we will carry with us forever,” Eley said. “Coach Ingle has always pushed me to do my best and he’s believed in me every step of the way.”
That’s why she believes that she’s ready for the next level.
Eley is now off to Toccoa Falls College beginning in the fall. She plans to major in sports management and continue her volleyball career.
And, while the decision process was stressful for her, Eley admits that Toccoa Falls College is the right fit.
All it took was one meeting with the Toccoa Falls’ coach to clear the stress and question marks surrounding her decision.
It even brought about some anticipation for Eley.
“Coach Torres was the first one to talk with me,” Eley said. “I went on a tour of the school and practiced with the team. After that, I just knew that’s where I wanted to be. Now, I’m excited to say I’ll be attending Toccoa Falls College.”