Heritage Hall senior Sydney Miles had a lot of scholarship opportunities to play volleyball at Division I universities, but she didn't let herself get sucked in by the lure of simply being a Division I athlete.
Miles realized that there's much more to her future than just the next four years of volleyball, so she began to focus her college decision on the college itself.
Miles, The Oklahoman's All-City Volleyball Player of the Year, turned away opportunities at good schools like TCU, San Diego State and the University of Denver to attend Emory College, an NCAA Division III university on the outskirts of Atlanta.
“I started looking more at the schools first,” said Miles, a versatile 6-foot-1 setter for the Chargers. “I loved Emory, the campus, the volleyball program — just everything about it fit my personality perfectly.”
Professional volleyball options are somewhat limited, with the best opportunities being in beach volleyball or overseas leagues. Neither of those appeal to Miles, which was a triggering factor in her pursuit to find the best academic program where she could also follow her passion for volleyball.
Emory provides that, and will help her focus on the bigger goals of her post-athletic career.
“Right now, I like the idea of medicine and I want to head to medical school after college,” she said. “Through the entire process, the academics of the schools had always been my top priority.
“I took my first visit to Emory last spring. I met with the coach on campus real quick, and I basically knew at that moment that's where I wanted to go. I had a couple reservations about it, but I basically knew it was where I was meant to be.”
A well-balanced player, Miles played a key role in Heritage Hall's Class 5A runner-up finish in its first season after moving up from 4A. And Miles was able to enjoy the experience of her senior year along the way.
“I loved the experience,” she said. “All the girls were amazing. Great personalities and a great work ethic on the team. It's a team you can strive to be your best on, and you know that everyone else wants to be their best.
“It was a great experience competing at state every year. It was so much fun.”