Devine’s trip to Olympic Training Center Helps Further Career
By Jeff Keeling
It took just a split second, but an awful lot of elements came together when East Tennessee State University volleyball star Megan Devine leapt for a beautifully set ball in Colorado Springs late last month. And the results, especially on this particular play, were memorable.
Devine, a Dobyns-Bennett High School (Kingsport) graduate who concluded her career last fall with a school and Atlantic Sun Conference record 1,940 kills, was one of 61 outside hitters getting a look at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. U.S. national coach Karch Kiraly and his assistants were vetting prospects for the national team in advance of the 2016 Olympic Games.
With her mom, ETSU head coach Lindsey Devine, inside the complex and acting as an evaluator over the weekend, Devine was scrimmaging with some of the country’s best players. The top teams and power conferences were well-represented, and players wore random numbers with no names to try and keep evaluators from letting pre-conceived notions bias their judgments.
That anonymity broke down when number W51 (Devine) went up after that set and smoked a kill into the back court. The rocket wound up on the floor for a point, but not before smashing into the face of University of Washington superstar Krista Vansant, the American Volleyball Coaches Association 2013 player of the year.
“I just got a set, and I went up and hit it like I normally hit it,” says Devine. The second blocker was late to the spot, giving Devine the opportunity to go down the middle. “I just ended up hitting it straight down and taking her face with it.”
The play was memorable, but so was the weekend. Devine hopes to parlay her Colorado Springs experience, and a summer 2013 stint in Pula, Croatia with ETSU teammate Meredith Hardy, into a professional career outside the country. And while she’d love to hear positive news about the national team, Devine says the weekend confirmed her confidence that she can play with the best.
“It was great just being able to go out there and know that even though I did come from a smaller Division I program compared to the big names of Florida, and Texas, and Oregon and Washington, that I can compete at that level and show my ability against the top players in the country.”
The Dobyns-Bennett High School graduate was her team’s only senior last year, when the Bucs made the Atlantic Sun Tournament semifinals before falling in an extremely close 3-2 match to Lipscomb University.
“It was an awesome experience,” Devine says of the Colorado Springs tryout. “I gave my all and showed that I’m ready to take my game to the next level, hopefully overseas next year. Knowing I can play with the best players in the country, going over to another country I’ll be able to hang with bigger players and big-time players in Europe.”
And while it’s somewhat subjective, Devine says she has always known she has “a cannon of an arm,” and believes she hit “probably the hardest of the entire gym,” in Colorado.
Now it’s a waiting game for the senior, who hopes her goals of graduate school and a college coaching career like her mother’s will take a brief backseat to a pro career. She has signed with an agency, and should hear in April or May what teams might be interested. Scouts and coaches were watching last summer when she and Hardy played in Croatia, which she says was beautiful. She says Puerto Rico would be great, but not many Americans land there.
“I just want to go somewhere that I’m going to enjoy, that has good food, is a nice area, and where I would get along with the team well,” she says. The season typically runs from August through April or May, with all expenses paid and some type of salary as well.
“I’m going to play as long as I can.”