By Tim Chambers
The five-hour plus drive from Johnson County to the bluegrass state didn’t cause one Johnson County volleyball player to waver when trying to decide where to cast her lot.
Sydney Souder chose Campbellsville University by signing to play volleyball for the Tigers on Thursday before her family, teammates, and friends at Johnson County High School.
Souder played other sports at the elementary level but decided that she wanted to make volleyball a career. She started playing with the Northeast Tennessee Volleyball Club as a freshman, and they moved her up to a 17 and under team as a sophomore. She was then moved up again to an 18 and under team as a sophomore before deciding to play in her age group for the Tri-Cities Extreme. She plans on being with the Extreme during the summer.
“I still have some work to do as a player,” said Souder. “It takes time and dedication to be the player that you want to be, and I still need to improve my game. That’s why I play summer year-round. You can’t just want it and expect it to happen. You have to work for it.”
Souder has been working a long time for this opportunity. She was an All-Conference player this past season and did not doubt what she wanted to do and where.
That’s what led her to choose Campbellsville.
“I immediately knew that this was it after the first time I went up there during the summer for a volleyball camp. I felt at home because it was very inviting and the coaches and staff were very positive toward all the players there. It was a good environment, and I knew I wanted to be there too. I did not want to leave.”
Souder didn’t make her final decision until a second visit to the school convinced her to look at the Lady Tigers long and hard. She spoke about her time there.
“I went down a second time to a two -day camp and got to know all the girls and hang out with them. They shared their experiences and what it was like playing at the college level. That too was big in my decision making.”
Souder said that club ball had helped her improve her game, but she did enjoy her time as a Longhorn.
“It’s hard sometimes because you don’t get the same coaching as you do in travel ball, but you do get to play with your friends and have fun. It was a really good experience. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
Souder said the five-plus hours away from home will be a big adjustment for her, but she’s excited about making the move.
“I looked at a couple of other schools, but this felt more suited for me. It’s going to be an adjustment at first because I will miss my family and friends, but I think it will be good to get away and get out of my comfort zone. It will give me a chance to see the real world. I want to be a physical therapist, and Campbellsville will get me started on the right road. I owe a lot to Mrs. Tina Reece, who has had a big influence on me.”
Just like her dad and mom, Clay “Chopper” Souder and Joy Souder.
“I couldn’t have accomplished any of this without my mom and dad. They have been there every step of the way. I owe it all to them.”
Souder will once again play this summer in Bristol before leaving for Campbellsville in the fall. Her coaches have told her what to expect.
“The coaches want us to focus on our studies, faith, and then volleyball while here. They expect you to have your schoolwork done so you can prioritize volleyball because it is an extracurricular activity. This is like a dream come true. I’m happy to be a lady, Tiger.”