Colleen Smith never thought she would endure another stressful recruitment period.
Yet during the past year, the 5-foot-11 setter and 2011 Cary-Grove graduate found herself traveling to various schools, making phone calls and sending emails to coaches – something Smith figured she was finished doing when she committed to Indiana as a C-G sophomore. But after a rare, life-threatening disorder cost Smith her freshman season, and eventually her spot on the Hoosiers’ roster, Smith started banging on doors.
DePaul coach Nadia Edwards opened one. On Sunday, nearly a year to the day after she went into remission from Wegener’s granulomatosis, Smith committed to play for the Blue Demons. She accepted a four-year volleyball scholarship and will report to the Chicago campus June 17 to train for the fall season.
Smith was considering offers from North Dakota State and Youngstown State (Ohio) before deciding on DePaul, which needed a setter.
“It was so nerve-wracking,” Smith said of her second recruitment process. “Every school I looked at either didn’t work out or the doctors there wouldn’t clear me or something. DePaul was the last visit I made, and I knew immediately I wanted to go. It was perfect for me.”
Smith was sidelined almost immediately during her freshman season at Indiana. She became gravely ill with the disorder that causes inflammation of the blood vessels and restricts blood flow to various organs. Smith spent a year off the court only to come back and find she no longer was on the Hoosiers’ roster. She spent last season as a student assistant and made the difficult decision to transfer in the hope of fulfilling her dream to play four full years of college volleyball.
“Being a student assistant gave me a different opportunity to learn, and I did learn so much watching the best setters in the Big Ten play,” Smith said. “But the biggest thing for me is playing volleyball. I’ve been playing since eighth grade. I didn’t want to stop now.”