XENIA — Jada McAvene made a bold move as a sophomore on the Xenia volleyball team.
“I’m an all-around player,” McAvene, now a senior, said. “I’m an outside hitter and defensive specialist so I play front row and back row. We had a couple other defensive specialists (that season) so I would only play front row because that’s where I was needed. (But) I wasn’t settling for that because I knew I could get it done in the back row.”
So she, um, had a little chat with Coach Jessica Threats.
“I was like, ‘Well, let me show you where I need to play.’ And so I did,” McAvene said. “I just put my mind to it and that’s what I did.”
That same “don’t take no for an answer” mentality — and her on-court abilities — helped McAvene land a college scholarship after fearing she would be left out. And on Wednesday she made it official, signing with the University of the Cumberlands, located in Williamsburg, Ky.
“It was hard,” she said. “I almost wanted to give up a couple times. I was like, ‘I can’t play in college. No one wants me. No one wants me to play with them.’ ”
But instead of backing away from the recruiting process, McAvene continued it with the aggressiveness of, well, a front-row hitter.
“I just didn’t give up,” she said. “I kept sending my emails and just like the resiliency that I had my sophomore year, it transpired into my senior year and I was like, ‘I’m not giving up. I’m going to play in college somewhere.’ And I just happened to end up at Cumberlands.”
During a visit there, she practiced with the team and was told how happy they were to have her. Coach Kathryn Hart told McAvene they liked her and wanted the type of player she is.
“Obviously I wanted to play where I was wanted,” McAvene said. “I wanted to go somewhere where I could add to the team but it would also be competitive. I’m a very competitive person. I want to add to a team and I want to be able to have a positive impact on the team. I feel like going to Cumberlands is going to do just that for me. It was almost like it was meant to be. I was there and I was like ‘I can see this for the next four years of my life.’ ”
If the next four years are anything like the last three, McAvene — and the Cumberlands Patriots — will be in great shape. Since regaining her back-row status, McAvene has flourished.
As have the Bucs.
They have back-to-back Miami Valley League Valley Division titles and in McAvene’s three years on varsity, Xenia has gone from 7-17 to 13-10 to 14-9.
“Progressively gotten better,” she said of the team.
McAvene was 15th in the MVL in kills as a sophomore, ninth as a junior, and fourth this fall.
“Those were my personal best seasons,” McAvene said. “But also as a team collectively we all played tremendously together.”
She credited fellow seniors Haley McManus and Sydney Shuttleworth for their major role in Xenia’s recent success.
“We really got it done,” McAvene said.
Said Threats, “I think shes been a great example to the girls going forward.”
That’s kind of McAvene’s credo.
“I’ve just always wanted to do good for others really, and just spread my light to them and just inspire them to be better people in the world,” she said. “I was able to do that a lot through volleyball because I was around so many girls at one time. I could really just be myself, which is constantly like, ‘How can I help you have a better day?’ And I felt like I always tried to do that. My entire goal for the rest of my life is going to be help other people be the best versions of themselves.”
She helped herself as a sophomore. No doubt she can help others as well.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.