GAYLORD ― If you’re a Gaylord St. Mary’s sports fan, you’re probably familiar with the name Schultz.
Many around Snowbirds athletics know Pat Schultz, the former softball coach who now mans the sidelines of both the volleyball and girls basketball teams for St. Mary’s.
For the past four years, he has had the privilege to coach his daughter Ava, one of the best players on both those teams since she put on a Snowbirds uniform.
This week, she made it official what uniform she would wear next.
Surrounded by family and friends at her college commitment event, Schultz signed her letter of intent to continue her volleyball career at Grand Rapids Community College.
Schultz was the leader of the Snowbirds team this season from her middle blocker position, leading the team in kills and blocks almost every night. She helped St. Mary’s finish third overall in the Ski Valley Conference this season before the team won a third-consecutive MHSAA Division 4 district championship.
Fittingly, she thanked her family for all they’ve done to get her to this point in her athletic career.
“I’d like to thank my mom and dad mostly for always pushing me to work harder at volleyball because they knew I enjoyed it and they wanted me to succeed,” Schultz said. “They always supported my goals to play after high school and were always open to go on visits and talk to coaches with me. I love them so much.”
She will be joining a successful program at GRCC coached by Chip Will. In the past 15 seasons, the Raiders have been one of the top teams in National Junior College Athletic Association Division II, winning 10 regional championships, nine conference championships, making nine national tournament appearances and winning a National Championship in 2012.
“What really drew me to GRCC was the reputation. I watched film and read articles and the overall theme was a well-coached and very competitive team, not just in Michigan, but in the nation,” Schultz said. “I love the coach, Chip Will, and I cannot wait to be a part of his program.”
Coming from a small school like St. Mary’s, Schultz recognizes she has some stuff to learn and hopes to spend her two years of junior college eligibility improving as a volleyball player as much as she can.
“I am hoping to really work before I go down and earn myself a starting spot,” said Schultz. “I am just so excited to move forward with volleyball. I just can’t believe it’s even happening.”