A few weeks ago, Auburn head volleyball coach Rick Nold came to watch South Forsyth rising junior Shea McNamara compete at the Southern Volleyball Center. He saw a raw talent in McNamara, a middle hitter who has only been playing for two years, so right away he identified some things to fix with her swing.
Really, it was a test. Last Monday, McNamara was back playing in front of Nold at an Auburn camp. Nold’s fixes for McNamara’s swing had stuck, and Nold liked the new look, enough to offer McNamara a scholarship before she left.
And McNamara liked Auburn enough to make a verbal commitment to Nold before she left.
“I just really fell in love with the school,” McNamara said. “It’s a gorgeous campus. I loved the academic and athletic aspects of it. Really, it was just a perfect fit for me.”
McNamara’s verbal commitment is non-binding. The earliest she can sign with Auburn is November 2016, almost a year and a half away. This past season, Auburn went 13-18 overall and 5-13 in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn’s program could be anything by the time McNamara arrives on campus in November 2017.
But McNamara only figures to get better by then. Up until last year, McNamara was a competitive Irish step dancer. She started when she 8, convinced by the cousin of a best friend to give it a try.
“My family’s Irish, so I was kind of like why not?” McNamara said. “I tried it, and I loved it.”
It turned out Irish step dancing was good training for a middle hitter (Who would’ve thought?” McNamara said.) With exceptional footwork to patrol the middle of the net, McNamara made an immediate impact in her first varsity season, collecting 68 blocks and 105 kills to help South advance to the state quarterfinals for the third straight year.