At first, Holt senior Julie Shallman didn’t think volleyball was something to pursue after high school, but all of that changed with one road trip after her freshman season and some convincing from a teammate and friend.
Now she’s one of the top high school players in the Mid-Michigan area and will be continuing her career collegiately.
“My friend Ashleigh Carr was going down to a tryout to play at Michigan Elite and she kept asking me ‘Come with me so I don’t have to do it alone’ and she finally talked me into going,” Shallman said.
Shallman opted to play on a limited basis with the prestigious Warren-based team and participated in half of the scheduled tournaments, but liked it so much that she wanted to commute more often and increase her time with the club.
When she played with the club’s second team the next year, she began receiving her first emails from college recruiters. Shallman continued for another year taking lessons with some of the coaches from the club’s first team and was being recruited even more heavily.
“That was a really long season and that’s when I got seriously recruited and the last year was kind of stressful,” Shallman said.
Shallman settled on Akron in April after taking visits to Rutgers, Rhode Island, Lehigh, Delaware and also looking at Grand Valley State and IUPUI.
“When I ended up going, I saw that the campus was small. You can walk from one end to the other in 10 minutes easy. It was a campus I could see myself on.
“The coaches were super friendly and genuine and they really cared and they were easy to talk to and their program was a big balance between academics and the sport and that was a big draw for me,” Shallman said of Akron.
“I want to do engineering, and that’s a big curriculum. The school in general had a really good feel. … It’s a better balance than some of the other (Division I schools) I had visited.”
With the pressure off after making her college choice, Shallman had a monster senior season and helped Holt to a 23-14-4 record.
Shallman finished with 337 kills and 137 blocks as a senior, putting her towards the top of the season and career lists at Holt in each category. She only hit one time in the negative all season and had a .345 hitting percentage.
“The last three years Julie has been one of our main go to hitters. We relied on her to kind of run our offense as well as be a powerful blocker to hold up our defense,” Holt coach Kellie Sweitzer said.
“She is a leader on the court as well to younger players who aspire to be like her and in addition she’s a great student-athlete so she leads as a role model in the classroom.”
Shallman improved on her kill and ace numbers from her junior year. Her kill total as a junior was 251 and she recorded 17 more aces as a senior as her technique improved.
Sweitzer was entering her first year as coach when Shallman was a freshman. Shallman started on the junior varsity, but the staff soon saw that her talents could be used at the varsity level as Shallman was improving through both high school and club play.
“Although she was looked at and I saw her height and athleticism, I thought the JV level was a good first place for her to start and she picked up the sport very, very quickly,” Sweitzer said.
“Her numbers have just gotten bigger. She’s gotten more accurate as a server. She continues to play on her club team, but she’s become an all-around volleyball player in the years that I’ve had her on my team.”