Photo by Jeff Vorva
Mother McAuley’s Charley Niego has a little fun after signing her volleyball letter-of-intent to Notre Dame.
Mother McAuley outside hitter Charley Niego had her heart set on going to Notre Dame for two years.
She made her verbal decision her sophomore year.
Sometimes early commitments don’t work out. Coaches change. Players may get injured or regress in their skills.
But this wasn’t one of those cases. Everything went as planned.
Niego, who helped lead the Mighty Macs to a state and national championship her junior season, made it official as she inked her letter-of-intent Thursday in front of the volleyball trophy case in the lobby near the gym.
“It’s a great school academically and athletically,” Niego said. “It’s a Catholic school, so that was a plus. I have visited there and watched the team and their style of play is like mine – very competitive. They are really dedicated and they care so much about the sport and so much about the athletes.
“They want to make volleyball at Notre Dame a great sport and I really want to be a part of that.’’
The Irish won 17 of its first 25 matches this year.
Niego will be teammates with former McAuley star Ryann DeJarld, who is currently a junior libero and the daughter of McAuley coach Jen DeJarld.
Irish coach Jim McLaughlin can’t wait to get Niego on campus.
“I wish Charley was here today,” he said. “I always said to win championships, you have to have a lot of good volleyball players. Charley has a complete set skill at this point in her development and has very good physical ability.
“Her arm is fast and she hits a very heavy ball. But what I appreciate most about her is her intensity and energy. The best players I’ve coached have had a unique level of intensity and energy. Charley has that special gift and if she uses it correctly, there will be no limits on how far she takes her abilities.’’
On the same week she signed, Niego also found out she was named a first-team All-American in the Under Armour All-America Match, which takes place Dec. 15 in Kansas City.
She was one of 24 players to make the squad and is the first player in McAuley’s rich history to earn a spot on the team.
Several other athletes took advantage of the fall signing period to officially make their choices.
Sandburg had its usual small army of signees including five baseball players.
Branden Comia (Illinois), Andrew DeMatteo (Augustana), Ryan Hampe (UIC), Andrew Tenison (Lewis) and Evan Tenuta (Notre Dame) took part in a signing ceremony at the Orland Park school on Nov. 8.
In softball, Heather Vetter signed with Aurora University and Ashley Wood signed with Southern Illinois University.
Before heading to the Illinois High School Association Class 4A state semifinals, Marist volleyball player Savannah Thompson took time to sign her letter of intent to Central Michigan University.
Brother Rice’s baseball team had four signees – Sam Jones (Indiana), Patrick Hayes (Illinois State), Brandon Mahoney (Carthage College) and Joey Payton (Central Michigan University).
At Chicago Christian, volleyball player Danie Tyson signed with Kent State University.
Roosevelt University grabbed area softball stars Kelly Farmer (Evergreen Park), Kassie Kawka (Stagg) and Haley Getz (Evergreen Park).
Shepard softball player Jessica Coyle signed with the University of Dubuque.