Woodstock North’s Brooke Amann had South Dakota State University near the top of her wish list when she started exploring potential fits for life after high school.
On Saturday, the 6-foot outside hitter got her wish and announced her commitment to play for the NCAA Division I Jackrabbits and women’s volleyball coach Nicole Cirillo after her senior year.
Amann is the first volleyball player to commit to a D-I school in North’s 10-year history.
Amann traveled to the Brookings, South Dakota, campus Friday and was offered on the spot by Cirillo on Saturday. It was only a few days earlier that South Dakota State saw Amann play for her club team, VC United of Loves Park, at an exposure camp with 14 D-I schools in attendance.
“It was pretty wild,” Amann said of the fast process. “Within two days, I visited and they offered. Their facilities are absolutely beautiful, and I’m more the type of person that likes a lot of green space instead of a big city. It was just the perfect fit.”
Amann reached out to South Dakota State in February, but there was no interest at the time. She had a good feeling after camp.
“I was thankful they were there,” said Amann, who also got offers from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and University at Albany (New York). “I had a really good feeling. It instantly felt like home for the next four years.”
Amann had a monster junior season, leading all area players with 483 kills and 83 aces. She was voted Kishwaukee River Conference Player of the Year, earned Northwest Herald All-Area first-team honors for the second year in a row and was named to the All-State second team by Illinois Prep Volleyball.
North’s volleyball team won the school’s first regional championship, going 22-17 and surpassing the program’s previous best of 20 wins, set the year before. No Thunder team had more than 11 wins before 2017.
Amann, who grew up playing soccer and basketball, started playing volleyball in seventh grade, when her friends all started to play, and hasn’t looked back. She has big plans after college, too, with aspirations to play professionally.
“I want to play in Europe,” Amann said. “Seeing a lot of girls go pro after college or play their fifth year in beach volleyball, I really strive to be like them.”
At 6-foot, Amann isn’t the tallest player at her position, but her all-around game likely is what attracted colleges, she said. Amann credits Eric Schulze, her coach at North and VC United, for helping shape her game.
Amann hopes to help turn around a South Dakota State program that went 6-23 and 3-13 in the Summit League last season. For now, Amann is excited for her last season at North.
The Thunder lost seven seniors to graduation but started three freshmen in last year’s sectional semifinal loss to Sterling: Kamryn Butenschoen, Trinity Tillman and Avery Crabill.
“Last year’s seniors really brought the program to where it is, so I’m just going to follow in their footsteps,” Amann said. “Our goal is to make it to sectionals again, and hopefully a little farther.”