Wheaton senior signs with Mineral Area
Volleyball player excited for collegiate opportunity
Annually, only 3.4 percent of high school students nation-wide receive a scholarship to play sports on the college level.
On Tuesday, Wheaton High School senior Mariah Kochell joined that exclusive group by signing a national letter of intent to play volleyball at Mineral Area College in Park Hills.
"I am both excited and nervous at the same time," Kochell said. "I'm excited that I get to play a little more volleyball, but nervous about moving away from my family."
Kochell enjoyed a stellar senior season for the Lady Bulldogs. She recorded 291 total kills (4.9 per game), 105 total blocks, 43 service aces and 181 digs.
For her efforts, Kochell was selected to the all-district, all-conference, all-region first teams. She was also selected to the all-tournament team at the Southwest Volleyfest.
Kochell began playing organized volleyball when she was in seventh grade. She will be heading to college as an unknown product with a high ceiling.
"I wasn't very coordinated early on in my career," Kochell said. "But as I progressed through high school, I just kept getting better."
It is her progression that caught the eyes of area colleges.
"Because of her competitive nature and late start, Mariah still hasn't reached the peak of her ability," said Lee Coleman, Wheaton volleyball coach. "She hates to lose and strives to make all the players around her better."
Kochell chose Mineral Area College over Missouri Southern State University and Drury University.
"After traveling to the campus and visiting the coaches and players, I knew I had found a home," Kochell said. "The coaches were honest when they told me I was behind on my development, but they also said with hard work there was no reason that I couldn't catch up and challenge for starting time."
Kochell joins a Lady Cardinals program that finished the season 26-11 and lost in the championship game of the Region 16 Tournament.
"She can do anything she sets her mind to," Coleman said. "She was a strong presence on the front line for our squad and was able to block or alter a lot of shots."
The senior plans to major in education, as she wants to become a high school English teacher. She is the daughter of Eden and Michelle Shaw, of Wheaton.