Paonia senior Jessie Holt capped a remarkable comeback after signing a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball at Southern Virginia University.
After sustaining a knee injury that forced her to miss her senior volleyball season, Holt recovered from surgery in time to compete for the Eagles tennis team. She hopes to qualify for the state tournament for the second year in a row.
At one point after the injury, Holt wasn't sure she would make it to last Thursday's signing.
"I knew I would play again, but I didn't think I would play in college," Holt said. "Just me having it, and working harder and harder, I guess good things come when you work hard."
The school is in Buena Vista, Va., and is affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
While it is not a church-owned and operated school like BYU, most of the faculty and the majority of students at Southern Virginia are LDS.
"I found out about it through the church," Holt said. "We went out and visited it and it's a beautiful campus, and I like the idea of being at a smaller school. Makes life a little easier. Just kind of found it and fell upon it and fell in love with it."
The Knights are members of, and compete in the Division III Capital Athletic Conference.
"The volleyball team is growing, which is exciting because I'm excited to help it move forward and I know that there's a lot of spots open on it," Holt said. "I'm going to play volleyball and I'm hoping I might be able to play tennis, too. It depends on how busy I get. School comes first."
Holt's family tree goes way back in Paonia. Her father Don Holt, an assistant football coach for the Eagles, played football, baseball and wrestled at Paonia before his college career at the University of Northern Colorado. Her mother, Dee Holt, played basketball and tennis for the Eagles.
Holt assessed her high school career at Paonia with honesty.
"It taught me a lot," she said. "I feel like there were a lot more downs than ups, but I think that was what made me the player I am today."