Kirtland senior Ava Golem realized a dream last week when she verbally committed to continue her education and volleyball career at Wittenberg University.
“It’s super exciting as it has been my dream to play in college since middle school,” Golem said. “I sent Wittenberg various emails throughout the club season but didn’t get a response until June when they watched me at a tournament. They invited me to a camp, and that same weekend I took a campus tour; being on campus and in their gym just felt right to me. At camp, the coach offered me a spot on the team.”
Golem, who also considered Baldwin Wallace, Muskingum, and Otterbein, found everything she was looking for at Wittenberg.
“Obviously, there are many factors to consider when choosing a college, but Wittenberg had everything I wanted–a beautiful campus, the academic programs I wanted, small class sizes, not too close to home,” she said. “I also fell in love with the atmosphere in the gym, the coaching staff, and the players.”
A third-team All-Ohioan in 2021, Golem was recruited to play as a defensive specialist/libero.
“My plan is to work as hard as I can and compete for playing time as there are many talented players at Wittenberg,” she said.
Golem has been in Kirtland’s starting rotation throughout her high school career and her growth and maturity as a player is evident.
She credits much of her success to Kirtland coach Arlayna Newcomer.
“I have had a lot of great coaches throughout my career but I can say without a doubt that Coach Arlayna has really shaped me into the player I am today,” Golem said. “She has helped me grow skill-wise but, more importantly, she taught me how to be a leader and improve my mental game.”
Newcomer’s arrival in Kirtland back in 2019 reshaped the program around a talented freshman class that included Golem and Natalie Glowe.
Since then, the Hornets have won 64 of 78 matches and are 30-3 in league play with three conference titles to their credit. The Hornets also won back-to-back district titles in 2020 and 2021.
“It means the world to me that I have helped create a name for Kirtland volleyball,” Golem said. “I have made so many amazing memories and learned so much. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to play with my teammates and play for Kirtland; I would not trade it for anything.”
Now that she has created a lasting legacy at Kirtland, Golem hopes her journey has inspired future Hornets to raise the bar at Kirtland even higher.
“I hope that they have learned that you can work hard and have fun at the same time,” Golem said. “You are going to have hard days in the gym but they will always be overridden with good days that will lead you to success, help you reach your goals, and create unforgettable memories with your teammates.”