There are few things in life that fit together as naturally as Megan Devine and volleyball.
Standing 6-foot-3, Devine is a powerful leaper who can spike a ball with the force of a sledgehammer. Her potential was apparent from the moment she stepped on the floor as a freshman at Dobyns-Bennett High School, and it didn’t take long for that promise to blossom into full-blown proficiency.
Under the watchful eye of legendary D-B coach Kathi Shaffer, Devine led the Tribe to a state championship as a junior in 2009 and a runner-up finish in 2010, earning the Gatorade Tennessee Player of the Year award as a senior before moving on to East Tennessee State to play for her mother, Lindsey Devine.
Megan Devine’s career at ETSU was equally impressive. She was named the Atlantic Sun player of the year in 2012 and helped the Lady Bucs advance to the NCAA tournament before wrapping up her collegiate career in 2013 with a flurry of awards and honors.
On Monday, Devine was laboring away in familiar surroundings: on a volleyball court at ETSU surrounded by her teammates. While Devine points out that everyone on the floor is working toward the same goal — to improve and win a championship — the fact remains that a month from now the Bucs will be in Charlotte, N.C., kicking off the 2014 season while Devine will be 4,255 miles away preparing for her first professional campaign in Halmstad, Sweden.
“They’re all my friends and a great group of girls. I’m going to miss them,” Devine said. “We’re able to just play and just have a good time together knowing that I’m doing something that I’ve dreamed about doing and they’re just pushing for another championship. We’re all working for the same goal of wanting another championship.”
For Devine, the opportunity to play professionally came together over the summer. Her agent sent out game footage and fielded offers, passing them along to Devine for her approval. When the option to play in Sweden came along, it was too good to pass up.
So that leaves Devine preparing to hop onto an airplane in mid-August and land smack dab in the middle of the great unknown.
“I’m not really sure what I’m jumping into,” Devine said. “I know I’m going to have to work when I’m over there also, not just play volleyball. I’m working throughout the week, so that will get me out of bed in the morning.
“I’m kind of just going in with an open mind.”
This sort of uncertainty is something Devine hasn’t had to contend with so far in her playing career. Ever since her days in the Kingsport Volleyball Club, her mother and father, Carl, have always been around to provide coaching along with a healthy dose of parental support. Her journey from high school to college spanned a scant 20 miles down Interstate 26.
Now Devine is heading half a world away from everything she’s ever known, embarking on an impending adventure that promises to be equal parts exhilaration and education.
“I think it will be a different experience, to say the least, knowing that my parents first taught me everything I know about volleyball,” Devine said. “I think it’s just a really good opportunity to branch out since I’ve been here basically my whole life, just getting to experience the other side of the world knowing that they are just a phone call away. This is just something I need to do on my own.”
While Devine is ready to move on, she is leaving behind a legacy at ETSU that goes beyond anything that can be put inside a trophy case. Devine and former D-B teammates Jamie Rutledge and Meredith Hardy joined with Science Hill alum Ivey Rice to help the Bucs reach new heights, and in doing so, they blazed a trail for other local products to play Division I volleyball close to home.
Rutledge, Hardy and Rice will be seniors this season, leading a squad that will include sophomore Renzey Rice — Ivey’s sister — as well as freshmen Rylee Milhorn (Sullivan South) and Lexi Hartsock (D-B).
“Them being able to follow their dream and play as Buccaneers is just one of the best experiences I know because they’ll get to be close to home and their families will be able to see them play,” Devine said. “Even just getting a home crowd of their friends getting to watch them play and be successful — it’s really an awesome experience.”comments powered by Disqus