By Chris Whitfield
When they were younger, volleyball wasn’t the first sport of choice for either Casey Chapman or Hannah Jones. In fact, neither one had played beyond the occasional physical education class in elementary and middle school.
But once they were really introduced to the sport at North Murray High School, it became their first love.
Now, the Lady Mountaineer seniors will have a chance to play in college, with both recently accepting offers to play at Georgia Northwestern Technical College. As a Division III member of the National Junior College Athletic Association, the school does not offer athletic scholarships, but both were invited to join the team by coach Carrie Powell after they participated in open workouts.
For both Chapman and Jones, the opportunity to play beyond high school was something unexpected.
“I started to doubt myself and thought this past year was the last time I would get to play,” Chapman said. “But we talked about it, and coach Powell said she would love for me to play. I was really surprised and really thankful.”
Jones was also ready when the opportunity presented itself.
“I never would have thought I would be playing in college,” Jones said. “I wasn’t really planning on playing, but then when (Powell) asked me to come to a workout, I got really excited.”
Chapman has played basketball since childhood and was a forward for the Lady Mountaineers’ basketball team in the winter. But when she was introduced to volleyball by former North Murray coach Angela Campbell, another sport took root.
“I started my freshman year, and I have loved it ever since the first time I played,” said Chapman, a 5-foot-9-inch outside hitter. “You have to keep your head up and be strong and keep on fighting through it.”
Softball was the sport that Jones — a 5-3 hitter who will likely be used in a more defensive capacity in college — grew up with, but volleyball was new and exciting and a challenge each time she played it.
“It wasn’t that tough learning, but there were a lot of different things to get used to,” Jones said. “Switching places and switching plays takes a while to get used to. Other than that, it was pretty easy. The (timing for) hitting came natural from all my years playing softball.”
While playing in college is exciting, Jones is even more excited about trying to build the sport she loves in Murray County. She has been coaching the Eton Elementary School team and hopes to see a middle school program in the county.
“We are still in the process of building it up,” Jones said. “It will grow, and I really, really enjoy coaching the younger girls. It is something we all want to see grow.”