Crestview High School senior Georgia Small signed a national letter of intent Wednesday to play college volleyball at the University of West Florida.
CRESTVIEW — Georgia Small fought through her tears, emotions spilling over as a lifelong dream was realized.
Her parents sat to her left. Crestview volleyball coach Matthew Potts and her grandparents sat to her right. Her friends, teachers and extended family spread out in front of her, filling the Crestview High School media center almost to capacity.
Since the Bulldog senior was little, she has had two dreams: She wanted to play college volleyball and she wanted to compete at the Olympics.
Wednesday, Small crossed the first item off her list, signing a letter of intent to take her high-flying skillset to the University of West Florida in Pensacola.
"At the end of the season, the emotions were crazy, but now, going onto the next step, it’s just like this make me really emotional with all the support that I have," she said. "It’s ridiculous. I’m just glad I get to stay close to my family and my sisters, and my grandparents can continue to come to every game. It’s crazy. They love volleyball so much."
And so does Small’s new coach, Melissa Wolter. The five-time Gulf South Conference Coach of the Year has helmed the Argos since 2003 and guided the program to 13 straight NCAA tournament appearances.
In Wolter, Small sees a kindred spirit and a role model. The pair have been steadily forging a relationship since Small was in the sixth grade, one that proved instrumental in Small’s recruiting
"Last year, I just had a lot of colleges coming at me and I didn’t really know what to do," Small said. "I kinda stepped away from UWF a little bit, away from their recruiting process, but then I just ran into coach Wolter a few random times — not even for volleyball; I just ran into her — and just talked with her for hours. She’s such a good person to talk to and just lead you.
"That’s what I want to be: I want to be a great leader, and that’s what she is. It really inspires me."
Meanwhile, Small’s play on the court has inspired admiration from her peers.
A two-time Daily News All-Area selection, with a third selection surely on the way, Small led the Bulldogs to a second straight district championship this past October behind a team-high 346 kills, 275 digs and 53 aces.
"I’ve been coaching since ’94," Crestview coach Matthew Potts said. "Adults, kids, women, men. I’ve been around the block. Georgia’s probably one of my top three."
With her future secured, Small is already itching to get to work.
"Now I can just relax and enjoy my senior year, really focus on getting better for UWF and really look forward to winning a national championship," she said. "You know, I wanted that state championship so bad. Now it just makes me hungrier for that national championship."