After two years of starting for Walker Valley volleyball coach Judy Pruett, Madison Akins will continue her academic and athletic endeavors at Bryan College.
Akins, who started on the back row for the Lady Mustangs her junior season and was the team’s libero her senior year, signed with new Bryan volleyball coach David Shumaker in a ceremony at Walker Valley High School Thursday.
Coach Shumaker said the versatile Akins has an opportunity to step right in and contribute to Bryan College program this year. “We had more than 20 wins last season and finished the year among the top four teams in the Appalachian Athletic Conference.”
“But, we graduated four players so we have some positions open for new players to step up,” the first-year Bryan coach added.
Shumaker said he is looking at the former Lady Mustang as a back-row player. “I like it that she is a skilled player. She has that go-after-it factor. She comes from skilled programs in high school and club play. She’s also a good student.”
Bryan College has signed four other recruits for its volleyball team, including Shanti Upchurch of Rhea County and Maggie Brown of Chattanooga’s Boyd-Buchanan.
Walker Valley coach Judy Pruett emphasized that she is proud of Madison and all her accomplishments.
“She played for us four years and was a team leader,” said Pruett. “She was a big contributor to our success.”
The Walker Valley coach said Akins had 685 digs during her varsity career and also recorded 82 aces.
During her junior season she had 239 digs and 27 aces. During her senior year she average 4.33 digs and .53 aces per match, getting 446 digs and 55 acres. She also had 25 assists and 29 kills.
Coach Pruett said she will miss her former player “and her whole family. Her parents were a real help to our program,” she said.
“I think Madison is a skilled player and can contribute a lot at Bryan,” continued. “I know she’ll work hard.”
Akins, who admits she has grown a couple of inches since her senior season, is pleased with her decision to attend Bryan College. “It’s only 30 minutes away, and I was looking for a Christian college,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to play in college.”
The new signee for the Lady Lions said she attended a camp with some of the Bryan players, so she is already acquainted with a few of the team members.
The Walker Valley graduate is firm on her commitment to a career, but said “I want to work with children.”
Akins’ parents, Joy and Tim Akins, said they were also pleased with their daughter’s decision. “We have a very close family and this will allow us to attend some of her matches,” said her father.
Madison’s sister, Morgan, was unable to attend Thursday’s signing event, although grandparents Carolina and Jack Holloway were there. Morgan graduated from Walker Valley two years ago and married high school classmate Jeremy Roenneburg. The couple live at Shaw Air Force Base in S.C., where Jeremy is a meteorologist with the Air Force.