By Lethbridge Herald on April 16, 2015.
Much like many of her Catholic Central classmates, Cassie Kawa will be making the leap to a post-secondary institution this fall.
The main difference, however, is the Grade 12 student is heading nearly 3,000 kilometres away, and into the United States.
Kawa, 17, has accepted a full athletic scholarship to play Division 1 volleyball at Indiana State University (ISU) in Terra Haute. She signed her official letter of intent on Wednesday, as per NCAA regulations regarding national signing day.
â€œIt didnâ€™t really feel real until this morning,â€ she said at CCH Wednesday morning, alongside her parents Rick and Rhonda. â€œNow itâ€™s actually happening. Itâ€™s just such a big opportunity. Itâ€™s kind of nice that the hard work has paid off.â€
The six-footer, who plays middle and some right side, went to a volleyball camp in Saskatchewan last May, and one of the coaches there told her sheâ€™d be a good fit for the school. She then had a YouTube video made and that coach sent it to the ISU coaching staff.
â€œThen they contacted me maybe a few days after,â€ Kawa said. â€œWeâ€™ve been talking ever since then.â€
Kawa had an official visit to ISU in January where she met her future teammates, saw the athletic facilities, and stayed in the dorms.
â€œThat was a lot of fun,â€ she said. â€œThe campus is gorgeous.â€
Kawa had a few other interested schools, but ISU was the largest as it has a student population of 13,000. The Sycamores, whose most famous export is Basketball Hall of Famer Larry Bird, play Division I sports in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Kawa will play games on mostly Fridays and Saturdays during the NCAA volleyball season, which runs from late August until November. She is also enrolled in the honours program at ISU, known for its high GPA on the athletics teams, and plans to major in education.
With the population of Terre Haute at around 60,000, and a metropolitan area of about 170,000, the city shouldnâ€™t be too much of a culture shock, Kawa believes. She will still will miss Lethbridge, though, especially her friends and family.
â€œItâ€™s going to be hard,â€ Kawa said. â€œIâ€™m trying to mentally prepare myself for it. Iâ€™m really nervous, but Iâ€™m really excited at the same time because itâ€™s going to be such a new thing to me.â€
â€œWeâ€™re excited and sad,â€ Rhonda Kawa said. â€œIt is a long way, but weâ€™re glad that thereâ€™s FaceTime and Skype. It will be an adjustment for her and for us. But what an opportunity.â€
Rick and Rhonda plan to drive their daughter to Indiana to drop her off in time for her opening training session on Aug. 8 â€” which also marks Kawaâ€™s 18th birthday.