By Chris Chaney
When you’re one of the top volleyball players in the area, you have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing where you want to play in college. The hard part is being that college coach trying to wrangle up as many top recruits as possible.
Luckily for UC Clermont head coach Joe Harpring, having an assistant coach who is friends with said top player makes the recruiting process that much easier.
On Nov. 19, Felicity-Franklin standout Amber Lawrence inked her National Letter of Intent to continue her volleyball career with the Lady Cougars thanks in large part to her connection to assistant coach Meagan Schalk.
“What made me choose UC Clermont? Meagan,” Lawrence said. “She did (have a lot to do with it) and having the opportunity to play close to home, that helped.”
Lawrence helped lead the Lady Cardinals to 13-8 overall record her senior year and a sectional tournament berth.
One of the more decorated athletes in the area, Lawrence has been a perennial All-Star selection both in the Southern Buckeye Conference and around the Southwest Ohio area.
She’s been named to First Team All-SBC each of the past three years and was named to the First Team All-City as a junior.
“She obviously was the catalyst on our team,” Felicity head coach Damon Smith said. “She’s a very coachable kid that practiced hard and played hard and by all means, our team went as Amber went. Filling her spot is going to be tough to do. She was a great hitter and had an awesome jump serve.
“UC Clermont’s getting off the ground and to see a kid move on and play, it’s quite an honor to have played a part in that.”
As for the Lady Cougars, Harpring believes Lawrence will be able to step in and help the team right away.
“She’s an outstanding hitter,” Harping said. “She’s versatile enough, she could play any of our hitter spots. I think she was an outside hitter at Felicity, but she could play middle or even on the right side.
“It’s a matter of getting the best athletes and fitting where they will help us the best.”
Harpring went on to say that Lawrence’s power was a big draw for him and to have an assistant who was close with the family made a big difference.
The Lady Cougars have begun to establish themselves as an up-and-coming program, making it to the Elite Eight of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Tournament each of the last eight seasons.
Lawrence is no stranger to big time tournament play as she has been a member of the Cincy East Volleyball Club, which has been ranked in the top-10 in the state during her time with the club.
The signing was also a big day for Lawrence’s parents, Robin and Dave, as they saw their daughter’s hard work pay off as she signed to play at the next level.
“We’re proud of her,” Lawrence’s father, Dave, said. “She really put in a lot of hard work over the years and stayed positive. Even when they would win, she would be harder on herself than we ever would.”
Lawrence will start at UC Clermont in the fall where she will be pursuing a career in paralegal studies as well as helping the Lady Cougars continue to build their program’s status on the national stage.