When Dundee-Crown's Jenna Brown went on an official visit to Georgia State in November, the Chargers junior setter really appreciated the way women's volleyball coach Sally Polhamus made her feel at home.
"When I went on my visit, we were supposed to go to the football stadium for a game, and then we weren’t able to," Brown said. "Coach Sally and her husband took me and my mom out for coffee. It was something so simple, but that really stood out to me. It showed she was there for all of her players, and she was there for me."
Polhamus offered Brown a scholarship last week, and Brown announced her commitment to the NCAA Division I Panthers Thursday via Twitter. She also had an offer from South Dakota State.
"I visited their campus and I fell in love," Brown said. "It’s in the middle of the city (in Atlanta), and there’s so many things to do. There’s a Chic-fil-A on campus, which is amazing. I just loved Sally and the volleyball program and everything they had to offer."
Brown, who plans on studying forensic science in college, plays travel volleyball at Sky High in Crystal Lake on the same team with Crystal Lake Central's Madeline Timmerman (Eastern Michigan), Jacobs' Maggie Wallenberger (Southern Illinois), and Prairie Ridge's Claire Emery, Ansley Morlock and Kaylin Mitchell.
Brown really started to get serious about volleyball when her 13U team went to the national tournament and took third.
Ever since, she's wanted to play in college.
"It’s been my dream for a long time," Brown said. "Going into volleyball, I played because my parents put me in it, but then I started to love it, and I realized that it’s something I really wanted to pursue. Just being able to go to college and do something I love at the same time is amazing.
"When we went to nationals and got third, that set it in stone for me. It was a rollercoaster of emotions."
Georgia State finished 10-17 last season and 6-10 in the Sun Belt Conference East Division. Brown sees the Panthers only improving.
"I’m really looking forward to (winning) a conference championship," Brown said. "Their last season, they had a bunch of games where they lost by one or two points. I really want to get in there and help any way I can."
Brown still has one more season remaining at D-C and is closing in on school records for career assists and aces. The Chargers were 12-23 and 4-12 in the FVC last year, a four-win improvement after going winless in conference play in 2018.
Christine Hopkins-Muehl announced in January she was stepping down as head coach after eight seasons.
Brown, who will enter her fourth season as a varsity starter, paced the Chargers last season with 554 assists and 45 aces.
"With our coaches leaving and being in the position I am, I do see myself as a leader," Brown said. "I just want to see the program keep growing. I know it has a lot of potential. I would love to break some records, too; that would be the icing on top."