Wood’s Jackson to play D-I volleyball at Radford
Posted: December 7, 2012
WINCHESTER — If you want to play volleyball at the NCAA Division I level, James Wood coach Jill Couturiaux said you essentially need to treat the sport like “a full-time job.”
It was somewhat fitting then that Colonels senior Kelby Jackson spoke over the phone Thursday about her plans to play for Division I Radford University next year as she was being driven to a practice.
Jackson, an All-Region II and All-Northwestern District first team selection, will play for the Highlanders of the Big South Conference as a walk-on next year.
Jackson will attend the southern Virginia school with the understanding that she will be a walk-on for her first two years and can receive scholarship funding the last two. But if she plays well and the makeup of the team’s roster changes, she could be in line to receive athletic scholarship money as early as her sophomore year.
Jackson said the quality of the school, its location, the coaching staff, the players, and it’s education program — she’s thinking about majoring in elementary education — make Radford a perfect fit.
“The level of play is outstanding,” said Jackson, who also gave strong consideration to playing at Division III Christopher Newport University. “It’s been a dream of mine to play Division I volleyball.”
Radford went 16-16 overall and 6-8 in the Big South Conference last year.
Jackson earned the attention of Highlanders head coach Marci Jenkins through her play for her Northern Virginia Volleyball Association club team last June at a tournament in Florida. Jenkins invited her to a camp at Radford in July for potential recruits, and Jackson was one of about 30 who attended.
Some of the current Radford players also got in the action, and Jackson felt she held up well.
“I feel I had good serve-receive, and passing,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s play got her an invitation for an overnight visit during the team’s Highlander Invitational, which featured three matches over two days on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. The Highlanders went 2-1, but just as notable was how much the university showed it embraced volleyball. Radford doesn’t have football, so volleyball was the scene for tailgating, with players’ parents working the grills.
Jackson said another appeal to going to Radford is that she knows she’s going to be pushed to perform. Jenkins — who was the Big South Coach of the Year in 2011 after posting the Highlanders first winning season in 10 years in her fourth year at the helm — works directly with the liberos.
“She really emphasizes defense, so she’s going to demand a lot from me, and that’s going to make me a better player,” Jackson said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Couturiaux said Jackson — who led the area with 310 digs this season — has definitely earned a spot on a Division I roster for all the effort she’s put into the sport.
“Playing Division I, a lot of girls aspire to do it, but they don’t know how much it takes to do it,” Couturiaux said. “But Kelby’s a workhorse, and she’s done a lot to improve herself.”
— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at email@example.comFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1