Jordan Shinaut made the difficult decision last year to cross the country to pursue his volleyball career at Lasell University, a small Division III school in Newton, Massachusetts.
The 2021 Sunrise Mountain High School graduate said he was glad he did.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been happier,” Shinaut said. “I think it was literally the best decision I’ve made – ever.
“I was sitting in my room and I was like, either I’m going to have fun at university with my friends, or I’m going around the world. If I go to university with my friends, I don’t wouldn’t have this opportunity to go around the world. So I just thought, ‘Why not?’ And it was the best decision I made.
In his first season, Shinaut improved in every aspect, according to coach Jeff Vautrin. This winter, he earned seven straight Rookie of the Week honors in the Lasers’ Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC).
In early April, he won Rookie of the Year.
“I was so happy,” said Shinaut, who plays opposite for the Lasers.
“I’ve told my coach multiple times that my goal at the end of the season is to be ranked No. 1 in hit percentage and to be rookie of the year, so that’s for that’s what I’m working on, and this stage was really exciting.”
Vautrin said the honors are special.
“It’s definitely a tough conference,” Vautrin added. “But honestly, you know, I’m more focused on his development as a player than his rewards. And I think he’s on the right track right now.
Prior to winning the top prize, in three games, the 6-foot-6 Shinaut recorded 40 eliminations, including double-digit totals in every game and six blocks overall, and the Lasers won all three games.
The following week he played two games and had 17 kills in the first game and 16 in the next. He also had a career-high 10 digs, seven total blocks and six assists. The Lasers also won those two games and went 8-0 in February.
“I really like the coaching staff and my team,” said Shinaut. “I think we are going to go very far. This is the main thing I like about this program.
In Arizona, Shinaut played volleyball at Sunrise Mountain, as well as at the Momentum Volleyball Club. Despite his stellar play, Shinaut said he got more attention from Momentum.
He was heavily recruited and eventually found by Vautrin and Lasell University through the Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) recruiting network.
After finding out, Vautrin said: “When I contacted him, it seemed like our conversation was going very well. And it seemed like a very good choice for him, both athletically and academically.
“I knew what we were building here. I knew what we needed, and he seemed like the perfect fit in every way. Specifically, in terms of volleyball, I think his D-III level size is, you know, just something very rare. But on top of that, his volleyball IQ, team mentality and hard work really put him above the edge.
Shinaut said he felt he faced tough competition in Arizona, but didn’t realize his full potential until he arrived in Lasell.
“I think I was pretty well prepared. I learned the basics of volleyball (in Arizona). And I got a lot better, but I didn’t know much until I got to college,” a- he declared.
Vautrin said Shinaut had “established the offense so well”. Shinaut’s all-around game led Vautrin to say it “established him as that six-rotation player” for the Lasers.
“His biggest contributing factor is his ability to control the net,” added Vautrin.
“With his height, IQ and power behind his swings, he’s one of our best attacking players, but he also really slows down any outside he plays against.”
Off the pitch, Shinaut is equally impressive.
“He’s an absolutely exceptional guy, super motivated by the team,” Vautrin said.
“He always hangs out with the guys, brings the guys together. Academically, he is doing well. It’s something I’m really proud of. And, you know, as long as he can keep working hard and putting this team together, I think we’re going to get very far.
Shinaut acknowledged his contribution to the team, saying he brings the energy.
“I love to rock people,” he said. “I love putting a ball down. I love getting people excited when they put a ball down, and I’m just a team player.