Sydney Sexton came to Campbell County High as a member of the school’s inaugural class of volleyball players.
Four years later, she’s leaving as the Lady Cougars’ first-ever college volleyball scholarship signee.
Sexton, a 5-foot-8 outside hitter made it official earlier this week when she put her signature on a letter-of-intent to play for the University of the Cumberlands at nearby Williamsburg, Ky. The signing ceremony was held at noon Tuesday in the high school library, with several family members and coaches in attendance.
“I think I’ve done basketball, baseball, soccer, even a little cheerleading,” said Sexton.
“Volleyball is the sport I just fell into.”
Sexton first picked up volleyball as a sixth-grader at LaFollette Middle School. She played the next seven years and continued to play even after her high school season was officially over last October. In December, she made the roster of the Smoky Mountain Juniors, an elite club team.
From there, Sexton progressed to such a degree that she drew notice of several college coaches, including UC’s Kara Clemenz.
“Sydney Sexton is an outstanding young lady,” said Clemenz.
“She came to the University of the Cumberlands for a visit earlier this semester. Sydney has raw athletic abilities, and I anticipate, that over the next few years, she will really develop quite a bit. An outside hitter, Sydney is a very well rounded athlete, and her actions on the court speak volumes about her abilities.
“During her visit, we asked her to try some plays she had never done before, and she picked them up very quickly. I am excited to see how she will help our JV team in the upcoming season.”
Sexton’s club coach, Chris Stamm, witnessed firsthand how quickly she catches on. He said Sexton hardly got on the court when she first joined the team, but, by the end of the season, she was starting.
“She started the last three tournaments, and those were our biggest tournaments,” said Stamm.
While on the club circuit, Sexton gained valuable experience while playing against elite level competition in tournaments from Indianapolis to Atlanta to Washington, DC.
“She has a huge upside to her in that she doesn’t stop taking instruction,” said Stamm.
“She’s tall, she’s strong, and she had the second-best vertical jump (21 inches) on our team. All that means nothing if you’re not coachable. She never stopped smiling, even when she probably didn’t feel like it, and she never quit.
“She’s not even scratched the surface of her ability. Her ceiling is pretty high.”
Clemens obviously saw those same qualities in Sexton when she made her visit to UC earlier this year.
“Sydney knows the game of volleyball very well, and I am looking forward to working with such a coachable athlete,” said Clemenz.
“I believe the University of the Cumberlands volleyball program is a great fit for Sydney. The team is really looking forward to welcoming their new teammate to campus and to the team. Once again, I am thrilled to have Sydney Sexton as the newest member of the UC volleyball team.”