(Image courtesy of angieakers.com)
Angie Akers, international and domestic professional beach volleyball player, was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana and attended Bishop Luers High School as a dominating two-sport student-athlete. With full scholarship offers to play both volleyball and basketball across the country, she decided to pursue volleyball at the University of Notre Dame.
While at Notre Dame, she helped the Irish reach 6th place in the national rankings (the highest the program had ever achieved). She received many honors such as the All-Freshman All-American Team, All-District, and All-Conference.
Angie made the transition from the indoor game to professional beach volleyball and was named Rookie of the Year in 2002. After the 2009 season she reached a 5th place world ranking and was named Rookie of the Year on the FIVB tour that same year. 2011 will be her 10th season as a professional.
Q & A
I took a few minutes to chat with Angie about her experiences as a high school student-athlete and in the recruiting process. Here is what she had to say:
Q: Can you tell me a bit about your experience playing sports in high school?
A: My high school experience was centered around sports. I was a two-sport athlete, playing volleyball and basketball. I played on my high school volleyball team in the fall, played basketball in the winter, and then played club volleyball in the spring and summer.
I was a starter on the varsity teams (for both sports) from the time I was a freshman. I had a lot of success from the start. I was named an All-American in club volleyball every year that I played club. I was also awarded All-City/Conference for both sports as a freshman and every year that I played. I was a captain my junior and senior years for volleyball. I was a captain my junior year in basketball, but decided not to play my senior year.
Q: Did you attend any camps or showcases that you found to be integral in getting seen by coaches?
A: I attended a USA Elite Camp my freshman year summer and also played on the Junior National Team both summers between sophomore and junior year, and junior and senior year. I think those where definitely integral in getting seen by coaches.
Q: Was there a specific moment you said to yourself "I want to continue playing in volleyball -- both collegiately and professionally”?
A: I originally wanted to play basketball in college until I fell in love with volleyball as a sophomore. That is when I knew that I wanted to pursue volleyball instead of basketball. To be honest, I think I got sick of all the physical contact in basketball and started enjoying volleyball more. I never thought I would play professionally -- it really never entered my mind until after I finished up at Notre Dame.
Q: Why did you ultimately choose the University of Notre Dame? How many other schools were you looking at?
A: I chose Notre Dame for a variety of reasons. I had dreamed of going there from the time I was in 4th grade. I didn't even know what volleyball was, but I sure knew that I wanted to go to Notre Dame.
The volleyball program was not that strong at the time, but I wanted to play a part in making it better. Ultimately, I was scared to go far away from home for college, so I stayed close to home and went to Notre Dame.
I took visits to four schools: Notre Dame, the University of Southern California, Florida, and University of the Pacific. From there, I narrowed my decision down to USC and Notre Dame. I chose to stay close to home and went to Notre Dame.
Q: When did you start getting interest from college coaches?
A: I started getting interest from college coaches in the 8th grade. It was a different time, recruiting-wise. There were no rules about when an athlete could be contacted. After playing at club Junior Olympics, college coaches started sending letters.
Q: Who was pivotal in helping you through the recruiting process and why?
A: My parents were very helpful in the process. They managed all the phone calls and messages and kept me in check. It would have been very easy to get distracted by the whole process, but they helped me keep a level head. They were present at every college coach's home visit and helped me think of questions that I wouldn't have thought about.
Q: What is one piece of advice you have for student-athletes when choosing a college or university to attend/play for?
A: My advice is to make the decision that is best for YOU. Your education will outlast your volleyball career – don’t ever forget that!