Dominating Division-I

Ava Poland, Staff Writer

Blue Valley has always thrived in the athletic department, and this school year multiple female athletes have been kicking, shooting and passing their ways to becoming the best of the best in their sport. 

Senior Mia Yang and juniors Jadyn Wooten and Ryan McAleer have each committed to Division-I universities.

Soccer has been in Yang’s life since she was only 4 years old when she began to play for Sporting Blue Valley and later the Blue Valley High soccer team. But in 2023, Yang will be waving goodbye to these teams as she continues on her Tiger legacy at the University of Missouri. 

The process of getting chosen by this school was all but a simple one. Yang and her club team traveled to multiple prospect tournaments where college recruiters analyzed her gameplay to decide if she was fit for the team. 

“Mizzou reached out to me after one of the showcase events,” Yang said. “Then I had my official recruitment visit, and I committed like a month after.” 

Yang didn’t always know she would play for the University of Missouri. Originally, her top picks for schools included University of Kansas, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Texas. But once she did some more research on Mizzou, her perspective changed. 

“I’ve always been a KU fan growing up,” she said. “But once I talked to the Mizzou coach, I really liked her. I also liked the distance of the campus [from home].”

Though the process of choosing a school can be exciting, it can also be a major source of stress for deciding athletes. 

“From a young age, I had a lot of people telling me how good I was,” Wooten said. “My recruitment didn’t start until later, so I was questioning myself.”

Nevertheless, her talent did not go unrecognized and, sure enough, she began to receive opportunities left and right. 

“Last year, around September, I started getting a bunch of Power Five offers and Power Five looks, so then it got kind of fun,” she said. “I had schools telling me they want me.”

Oklahoma State stuck out among the other schools that wanted Wooten on their team. She ended up committing to them this summer. 

“It was easy to pick Oklahoma State because they got a new head coach this year,” Wooten said. “I saw the culture change, and it was super attractive to me”

Wooten hopes this school can provide her with the tools and coaching to help her get to the WNBA. Taking advantage of the resources at the school and maintaining a strong mindset are her main focuses to keep her on the path toward success. 

“I’m definitely trying to go to the WNBA, but that’s just a goal,” Wooten said. “A lot of people tell me I can get there, so I’m hoping Oklahoma State can prep me and get me ready for the next level.”

Also taking her athletic career to the next level, McAleer has committed to Purdue University, a Division-I university in the Big Ten Conference. The nationally ranked libero verbally announced her commitment to the Division-I school on Instagram this July.

To McAleer, Purdue appealed to her more than the other schools.

“Purdue was always one of my top schools just because, obviously, they’re a top program,” she said. “Also I knew the atmosphere was just super welcoming, and the team is super family oriented — it’s more than volleyball.”

It is no secret McAleer excels in her libero position, but that doesn’t prevent her from pushing herself to prepare for collegiate-level competition. 

“I’m still working, getting myself in the best possible place to compete,” she said. 

Purdue will not only aid McAleer’s future in college sports but also in her career. After four years at the university, she plans to play volleyball professionally and eventually become a sports broadcaster.

“Being in the Big Ten Conference for volleyball is a big thing — it’s like the best conference in the nation, so [Purdue] being at the top of it gives you a huge one up on the other schools,” McAleer said. “Playing in the Big Ten and wanting to broadcast for the Big Ten — that gives me connections.”

I knew the atmosphere was just super welcoming, and the team is super family oriented — it’s more than volleyball.”

— ryan mcaleer, 11