Brittanee DeWine is going away to college to play volleyball and she has to leave all of her little CYO buddies behind.
DeWine and her four fellow Catholic Central seniors coached a girls team of fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders during their high school season and had a blast.
“The best part was the tournament day,” DeWine said. “A little girl came up to me and said, ‘I just want to cry,’ because they had just won the tournament and it was an awesome feeling. We were joking around with the CYO coordinator that we were going to finish with a win, and we did.”
DeWine’s four-year career as a middle hitter at Central was filled with similar moments of joy, and now she hopes that same enthusiasm for the game follows her to West Virginia State, an NCAA Division II school near Charleston.
DeWine, who led Central to a 22-2 season as the Ohio Heritage Conference player of the year and an honorable mention all-state performer, visited several schools before signing with West Virginia State. She said the school felt the most like home when she visited.
“It was a really good experience and the girls were really fun,” DeWine said. “The team seemed like they are just having the time of their lives, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
The Yellow Jackets finished 10-17 this past season and graduated several seniors, so there could be ample playing opportunities as a freshman.
Meanwhile, DeWine is playing on a club team for 18-year-olds, the Champaign County Sharks. She is teammates with Tecumseh’s Megan Christmann, who will also play Division II in West Virginia at Alderson-Broaddus.
Previously, DeWine played for the Dayton Juniors and took a trip to China with the team, so a three-hour trip to college feels close to home for DeWine.
“It was really surreal,” DeWine said of her trip to China. “I wasn’t expecting them to be so tall, and they had a girl who was 6-3. And they were very, very talented. I never pictured anything like it.
“And you learn to appreciate the United States a lot when you go over to China. There’s so many people in the cities, and it’s a whole different experience.”
DeWine’s volleyball experiences go back to when she was a fourth-grader playing on a CYO team. She said her parents didn’t expect much in her first game because there had been a delay in getting her on a team.
“They weren’t expecting me to play much,” DeWine said, “and I got out there and I served it over and that was kind of a big deal for a fourth-grader.”
She learned as a coach just how big a deal volleyball can be for beginners and said she might like to coach that age group again.
“I had fun teaching them the fundamentals,” DeWine said. “It’s not as intense as high school, but it was still really enjoyable to see them get so excited and to teach them how to play.”