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HEBRON ESTATES – One stop recruiting.
That is pretty much what Spalding University Volleyball coach Bridget Yates did this spring as she went out and got three North Bullitt players to join her program.
The trio of Kiersten June, Brittany Farnsley and Erin Downs all agreed recently to commit to the Golden Eagle program and they made it all official with a ceremony in the North Bullitt library.
(Spalding University is an NCAA Division III program and does not offer financial aide.)
The North Bullitt trio will move into the Spalding program as former North Bullitt standout Sara Schott leaves. Schott was the only senior on this year’s Golden Eagle team.
Yates has been the head coach at Spalding for the past 14 seasons. Before moving into the NCAA Division III ranks, Yates led the Gold Eagles to four consecutive USCAA National Tournament Final appearances, winning the national championship in 2008. Spalding now plays in the St. Louis Area Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
This past season was one of transition for the Golden Eagles as they posted a losing record for the first time under Yates. The team finished at 11-19 overall and was 8-8 in the SLIAC.
For the past three seasons the three North Bullitt players were coached by Ashley Byerley. At the start of their senior season, the coach sat down with the three and made videos of them in game action and posted those videos on YouTube. The coach then sent the links to college coaches.
“It will be a change for them,” Byerley said of the three at the next level. “Anytime you go from high school to college the expectations will be higher. Physically it will be tougher. They will have to earn their spot. It’s definitely a high level of competition.
“I have no doubt they can be successful,” the coach added. “They could have played anywhere. Spalding wants them. I think that is the key thing.”
The trio of players can all be leaders on and off the court according to their high school coach.
“They are a strong group of girls,” Byerley noted. “Their leadership potential will take them further. Volleyball is a cornerstone of how they build their life so I know they will be successful.”
Byerley has resigned as the North Bullitt head coach and the school will be naming a new coach soon.
For June, staying so close to home was not really part of the game plan, but that part of it worked out just fine. It was more the opportunity to continue playing volleyball. The senior said that if it was not for the volleyball offer, she would probably have attended the University of Louisville.
“I’ve known it was going to be Spalding since around December,” June said at the school gathering. “All three of us have been to a few open gyms there and went on a tour of the campus.”
The 18-year old daughter of Lee and Scott June was also attracted to Spalding because of their degree program in Occupational Therapy. June also plans on taking some classes in creative writing.
June has a younger brother, Zack, who is a freshman at North Bullitt.
North Bullitt reached the semi-finals of the Sixth Region Tournament after winning the 23rd District Tournament at the end of last season, but it was Senior Night that June remembers the most from the campaign.
“We have all been together since middle school,” the senior pointed out. “It was bittersweet. We also won that game (over Bullitt East).”
June was part of the North Bullitt program for six years and she was part of the varsity team for the past four seasons. She did not play any other sports at North Bullitt.
At this point, Farnsley is looking at only doing two years of college work at Spalding before transferring to another school that offers her major, orthodontics and dentistry. The only other school that interested Farnsley was the University of Louisville for school work only, but then Spalding had the volleyball offer.
That swung Farnsley who said she decided at the end of her high school season that she wanted to continue playing the sport.
The 18-year old daughter of Kim and Todd Farnsley, who is an only child, started playing the sport along with June and Downs in a program at Hester’s Fitness when she was in the fifth grade. Like the others, she attended Zoneton Middle School, and was part of the North Bullitt program as an eighth-grader. She then joined the varsity the next season.
“I usually have played left side hitter,” Farnsley said. “But I’ll do whatever they need or whatever they have.”
A favorite memory?
“There were a lot of fun ones,” Farnsley said. “When we beat Bullitt East on our Senior Night that was the funniest memory. There were a lot of people there.”
Like June, Downs is looking for a career in Occupational Therapy and that worked out fine with Spalding. The senior also looked at Berea, St. Catharine and Northern Kentucky, but those would have been as a student only.
Downs was a middle blocker on high school and she hopes to continue to do that at Spalding. She has watched one Spalding match and thinks she can fit in.
“They pretty much do the same stuff we’ve been doing (at North Bullitt),” she said. “I definitely think I can do that.”
Downs is the only child of Angela and Russell Cox and she is 18-years old.
The Occupational Therapy just worked to be what Downs wanted to do. The senior has known for about five months that she would be attending Spalding.
“I like to help people and make people laugh and be happy,” she said of her planned career path.
As with her past and future teammates, Downs recalls the win over Bullitt East on Senior Night as the favorite memory of her time with North Bullitt volleyball.