NIAGARA, Wis. – By all accounts, Niagara senior Bailey Pearson had a stellar high school volleyball career.
An average hitter/blocker, Pearson started for the Lady Badgers all four years, was named to the Marinette & Oconto Conference team the past three seasons, and coached coach Carol St. Arnauld’s team. on offense and blocking during his junior and senior seasons. .
Now, the 5-foot-10 Aurora native will continue her volleyball career at Lakeland University, an NCAA Division 3 school in Plymouth, Wisconsin.
“I am very excited,” Pearson said. “Coach (Ryan Schopf) contacted my high school coach in March, February maybe. I had spoken with the coach at St. Norbert a bit but his roster was full. And then I was going to play for Bay College and start there, but then Lakeland came along.
Part of the reason Pearson made this change in his thinking is academic. She plans to study business administration, possibly specializing in sports management.
“They have a co-op program which is, like, you get a lot of extra credits for doing real work, which was pretty much my deciding factor,” Pearson said.
Pearson began her volleyball odyssey like many girls do, watching an older sister play. When she was in fifth grade, Pearson watched her sister McKenzie play on the Niagara varsity team.
“It was his last year and his team was really good,” Bailey said. “That’s when I knew I wanted to play volleyball and try to be good. Then, probably around my freshman year, I realized I could play in college.
Pearson was the biggest and strongest hitter of her college years. She entered high school at age 5-8 and was placed in the role of right side hitter. In her sophomore season, Pearson played left and right as an outside hitter before being moved to middle during her junior season. She stayed there this fall and was a key factor in the Lady Badgers winning the conference title the past two seasons, according to St. Arnauld.
Pearson’s development as a player was also aided by five years of club volleyball with local volleyball club UP North.
“I’ve played there since eighth grade and we’ve had pretty much the same team for all five years,” Pearson said. “We were able to grow there. We really need to focus on real skills and new ways to practice them. »
It was Pearson’s skill as a hitter that caught the Lakeland coach’s attention.
“He said I could play just about anywhere, they just needed a hitter,” said Pearson, who also competed in basketball, track and field and softball at Niagara High School. “So we’ll see when I get there.”
Pearson will begin life as a student-athlete when she moves to Plymouth on August 18. Training will start the next day.
“I would just like to grow as a person and learn a bunch of skills, like developing my teamwork skills,” she says. “And time management, of course. In college, it will be really important.
“I’m really nervous, I like meeting new people and learning to work with them sportingly. And then the academics are different.
Pearson said she has already met several of the players.
“They were very welcoming.”