Senior agrees to Howard scholarship

Most athletes only dream of playing a college sport. But for senior Teppi Shultis, this dream is now a reality.

On Nov. 10, Shultis and her family met in the principal’s conference room to sign a letter of intent to play volleyball at Howard University. The University, located in Washington D.C., boasts a Division 1 athletic program and has awarded Shultis a full-ride scholarship to play collegiate volleyball this coming fall.

In signing the document, Shultis has moved one step closer to finally playing on the college stage, a dream that she has pursued since learning of the opportunity. However, Shultis has had to do more than just dream to achieve this goal. Since she began playing volleyball in third grade, she has completed countless hours of training on and off the court at practices, camps, clinics, training facilities and even in her own home.

“She has, in essence, been in-season year-round for the past three years, with perhaps a one- or two-week break thrown in somewhere, usually in the summer or at Christmas time,” her father, John Shultis, said.

However, Shultis has not always been so dedicated to the sport. She began playing volleyball for fun at age nine, and it was not until eighth grade and her first year with Metro American Volleyball Club that she decided to play competitively. It was then that she developed a love for the game and decided that volleyball was something at which she wanted to, and could, excel.

This determination has driven Shultis to work hard, realizing that no matter how good she gets, there is always room for improvement.

“I try to make it my goal to work harder than the people around me, and that has always made me successful,” Shultis said. “A lot of it just has to do with perseverance and my refusal to give up.”

Her father agreed that, although Shultis herself is very talented, her perseverance is one of the main reasons that she has been able to achieve such a high level of success.

“She sets tough, lofty goals, then she pursues them doggedly,” he said. “She also believes that she can and will get better, and that she can beat other players who have not prepared as well nor worked as hard as she has.”

However, success has not always come easily for Shultis, who was not selected to play travel volleyball after her first tryout in eighth grade.

“Here was this tall eighth grader who jumped nearly ten inches higher than any other player in the gym that day, and she didn’t make one of the five 14 and under teams in her age group,” her father said.

This failed to dishearten the young player, however, who received a call the following day to play for a 15 and under Metro American Volleyball Club team. A big step up from the league in which she had been cut, Shultis faced a lot of time on the bench before outplaying several of her older teammates and proving to her coaches that she deserved playing time.

This rejection sparked Shultis’s own determination and desire to improve, which, in turn, has led to her success in both high school and travel volleyball.

“She definitely has a passion for the game,” head volleyball coach Jan Austin said. “I feel like she lives, breathes, eats volleyball.”

Captured by this passion, Howard’s first-year volleyball coach, Dawn Barnes, pursued Shultis as a possible setter for next year’s squad. Having seen her play at a volleyball camp this past summer, Barnes made it her goal to bring Shultis to Howard as a future setter and leader of the team.

Shultis’s own prowess on the court as both a right side blocker and hitter, in addition to her skill as a setter, made her appealing to a number of other college coaches. However, in the end, Shultis decided that her best fit would be as a setter at Howard.

“It means a lot that I’ve accomplished this because I’ve had to face a lot of tough things as well as rejection from college coaches before I found a school I loved and would thrive at,” Shultis said.

When asked if she had any advice for younger players, Shultis delivered a response expressive of her own determination and perseverance, which have led to her success on the court.

“Never give up and if you think you’re doing enough, then do more,” she said. “People are always going to tell you that you’re not good enough, but make it your goal to prove them wrong.”