By Ken Barhorst
FORT LORAMIE — Kelly Turner’s immense talent on the volleyball court has taken her a long way over the past five or six years.
But even she could not have imagined she would end up where she has.
Turner is a 2015 graduate of Fort Loramie High School and was a big reason why the 2014 Lady Redskins brought home the Division 4 state championship in volleyball. And she was twice named to the Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association All-Ohio team.
She signed with Division 1 Northern Kentucky University after high school, and will be entering her junior season with the Lady Norse later this year.
It was being a part of the volleyball team at NKU that set things in motion for the Loramie grad. Each member school has an NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee made up of representatives from each sport. The mission of the committee is to “enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete welfare and fostering a positive student-athlete image.”
“Here at Northern, the representatives were going to graduate, so they needed two people to take it over,” said Turner just after a volleyball workout at Northern this week. “So me and another girl volunteered to represent the volleyball team.”
And that was just the start.
“Then I was asked if I’d be interested in representing Northern Kentucky in the Horizon League,” she said. “I filled out some forms and a couple weeks later they got back to me and told me that I had been selected. So then I became the SAAC rep in the league.”
You can probably see where this is going — once she was selected to represent her school in the Horizon League, the conference then selected someone to represent the league in the national SAAC. And Turner was chosen again.
She is one of only 32 members from D-1 schools across the nation, and she will be meeting with representatives from conferences like the Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, ACC, Big 12, etc.
“I was completely shocked,” Turner said. “There is one representative from each of 32 leagues.”
Turner said that the qualifications to serve on the SAAC at any level are things like grade point average (GPA), community service, and involvement in campus activities.
“They want different athletes’ perspectives,” she said. “They want male, female… I think they just want someone that is on top of things, goes to class, and gets good grades.”
The most any individual can serve on the SAAC is two years, so she will have to re-apply next year. She will continue to represent the volleyball team on the NKU campus, and the university on the Horizon League SAAC.
“I’m excited to inform my university more about what’s going on nationally,” she said. “It will be great to learn more about what is going on within the different leagues. There might be different ideas and new rules that we don’t have here yet, so I’m anxious to see what other leagues are doing. I think that is what I’m most looking forward to.
“I think the purpose of this is to make a student the best they can be,” she added. “It’s hard to be a student and an athlete, so hopefully we can make everyone’s life a little better.”
Turner says of Northern Kentucky, “I love it here. It’s a great college.”
But don’t be surprised to see her back in this area when her time at Northern is finished. She is majoring in elementary education and hopes to return to this area to teach and coach.