By Emma Niland
Senior Alyssa Vitale made her commitment to play Division I volleyball at Lafayette College official in front of family, friends, coaches, and PA staff in the auditorium on National Letter of Intent Day.
“It felt absolutely amazing to make my commitment [to Lafayette] official,” Vitale said. She added that signing the documents that bind her to attend and play at Lafayette just “felt right.”
Assistant coach Courtney Anderson said she is very excited for Vitale. “She’s one of the hardest workers in our gym at PA as well as for her club team at ECVC,” said Anderson. “She is setting a tone for all our younger athletes that if you set high expectations you will yield high results.”
As the starting setter and floor captain, Vitale led the PA volleyball team with over 20 wins and only one loss in the regular season this year. Her high school recognitions include being First Team, All State in 2017 and 2018 as well as First Team, All Region in 2017, 2018, and 2019 This year’s All State team has not yet been announced.. She has also been nominated for the All-Tournament Team from three different local high school tournaments.
After watching her compete at numerous matches, Student Activities Coordinator Bob Robbins saw that Vitale “recognizes each teammate’s abilities and provides her expertise to help them be successful.” This proves to be helpful to Vitale and her teammates “through the emotional highs and lows of each match,” he added.
Vitale has always known she wanted to play volleyball at a Division I school, but she never thought it would be Lafayette. Nevertheless, she said she couldn’t be happier with the position she is in now and is beyond excited to begin preseason in August.
Lafayette College competes in the Patriot League and is a private liberal arts college with prestigious academic programs located in Easton, Pennsylvania.
“I think I’m just really excited about playing at such a high level and really challenging myself academically,” Vitale said.
However, balancing school work isn’t the only challenging aspect of playing collegiate volleyball. In order to prepare for grueling morning workouts and hours-long practices, Vitale is focusing on her health and fitness now so that she can jump right in when preseason training begins.
“With club season being so challenging, I think that playing at that high of a level will really prepare me for the competition that I’ll see in college,” she added.
Committing to playing a sport at a Division I school is not an easy process, and Vitale experienced this first hand. “You really have to be proactive and willing to reach out on your own instead of waiting for coaches to contact you,” she said. Despite how tedious the process can be, Vitale is thankful she was so persistent in the process.
“Committing to a Division I school is really challenging, but it’s easily doable if your heart is set on it,” junior Jillian Lykins said. Lykins is committed to play volleyball at Providence, a Division I university in Rhode Island.
In most cases, high school athletes and college coaches are complete strangers, making the communication process between them difficult and sometimes nerve wracking. Fortunately for Vitale, Lafayette’s head coach Ryan Adams is no stranger. “I was really lucky,” Vitale said, “because [Adams] used to be the assistant coach at PA my sophomore year and also a coach at the club that I play for.”
Vitale plans to major in government and law with foreign language. “Academics is a big part of the whole college experience, and so I’m excited to have the opportunity to study something I am so passionate about at a school where I can play volleyball too,” she said.
“She is really going to be missed next year,” Lykins said. “She is easily the most deserving and hardworking girl I’ve ever met, and I know she’s going to do great things [at Lafayette],” she went on to say.
Anderson said, “Alyssa is the heart of the program at PA. She makes everything work and function.” She also said that she hopes Vitale cherishes every moment for the next four years because they will “fly by.”
\While Vitale said she owes a lot to PA head coach Craig Dooren, she also credits who she is today to the other seniors on the PA team this year as well as those from previous years. “They have shaped me into the person I am today,” she concluded.