Finding the school she said has everything she needs, Xenia senior Alayna Vela secured her position to continue playing a sport she has loved since she was young.
Vela signed her letter of intent to play soccer at Quincy University on Wednesday. It’s a place she sees as “perfect” for what she was looking for in the next step of her life.
“When I was at Quincy, it felt like home because it’s smaller and we were told how the community gets really involved for the most part and you get to know your professors really well and for me that’s the kind of learning that I need,” Vela said. “It being a smaller campus and the coach there filled my needs.”
Quincy, located in the western tip of Illinois, competes at the NCAA Division II level in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
Vela began to garner interest from the school while playing in club team events in Indiana and Florida. She made other visits to larger local universities, but knew what she was looking for in the end.
“I went to UC and didn’t like it because it felt too big for me,” she said. “My sister (Alexis Claybaugh) goes to Ohio State and told me to just come and things would be fine. When I went to Quincy, I knew it was perfect because I need a smaller university where I can get closer to people.”
Vela was second in the MVL this season in total points and assists, and third in overall goals. Playing in the midfield, she amassed 51 total goals in her four-year career while becoming a three-time All-MVL performer.
She said she enjoyed being able to be a good teammate and help her teammates grow, as well as herself, but most enjoyed the time she got with her sister on the pitch together.
“Growing up we would always play outside but never really got to play club soccer together,” Vela said. “Her junior, my freshman year, we got to do so for the next two years and that’s one of the best memories.”
Vela also decided to join the Lady Bucs basketball team this winter to expand her athleticism and has enjoyed the new experience.
“I would go to girls basketball games, but it’s more fun playing than watching because you get to be around your friends all the time and laugh. And sitting at home is not the most fun thing.”
Soon she will have her complete focus back on college preparation as the final months of high school conclude.
Vela said she wants to keep her mind open, but has goals already in mind she hopes to accomplish. One of which is hoping to find more success at playing a sports she loves.
“My coach at Quincy believes if you work hard and deserve to be on the field that you will be,” Vela said. “So working hard to possibly get to play a lot is one of my goals. And going into nursing while playing soccer at the same time is something I want to do well in and then I’ll get to enjoy the next four years there.”
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.