Make it four Division 1 commits on this year’s Ponte Vedra High volleyball roster, following junior Chelsea Sutton’s verbal commitment to the University of Tennessee.
“The recruiting process was crazy, but I’m very grateful because I received multiple offers,” Sutton said.
According to Sutton, she knew Tennessee was the place for her after she made her visit.
“The coaching staff is incredible, and I just love the school, the campus and Knoxville,” Sutton said. “The amount of support for the athletes there could definitely be felt on campus. That was a big deal for me.”
Sutton’s commitment comes early, as she still has two years left in high school, but it she made it with complete confidence.
“I knew once the opportunities were presented in front of me, that I wanted to make a really good and informed decision, but I also didn’t want to wait around,” Sutton said. “It was the best decision I could have made.”
One of the advantages of having committed is that now she can just focus on finishing out her high school career.
“I remember going into tournaments and seeing the different (college) coaches at the court, and then receiving letters and emails from all of them,” Sutton said. “I think that’s when it really started to sink in.”
She began playing competitive volleyball at 14 years old, but prior to that she had always been part of an athletic family growing up.
“My dad was big into rugby and my mom was big into basketball, so growing up they really let my twin sister and I try all of the sports,” Sutton said.
After playing a variety of sports, volleyball was the one that Sutton gravitated to.
“I knew at a young age that I wanted to play a sport for a long time, and I just knew it needed to be volleyball,” Sutton said. “It’s a very methodical game and you have to really think it out. When I first started playing, I don’t think I realized how complex the game can be, but now that’s the part that I really enjoy.”
She primarily plays middle blocker, and it is a position she has played for some time due to her height and ability to make plays at the net.
“Ever since I started playing one of the things that came natural to me is blocking, so over the years I’ve really been working on my attacking and shots,” Sutton said. “I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made.”
Sutton has been playing for so long that she is aware of when she is in the “zone” during a game.
She can tell it because all of a sudden she is so focused on the game that she no longer hears or realizes the crowd is there, even though they are just feet away in the stands.
At that time, all she is focused on is the match and the winning the next point available.
“It’s like a freeze frame, and just a one-of-a-kind experience,” Sutton said.