By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Sharonda Pickering, a sophomore middle blocker on the Hillsborough Community College Lady Hawks Volleyball team, has signed a letter of intent with Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles.
“Over the past two years, about 30 schools have contacted me about joining their volleyball program and during the past 2-3 week, I’ve boiled it down to four different schools,” Pickering pointed out. “Of those four different schools—Barry University, FGCU, St. Leo and Central Florida, I visited St. Leo and FGCU about a week ago. It boiled down to those two schools because they allowed me to have an opportunity even though my eligibility status says otherwise,” explained Pickering who began her college career at home at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College that doesn’t offer collegiate athletics.
Pickering, 20, added: “St. Leo had a different program in which they wanted me to pursue in order to earn my business degree and graduate by 2018. At FGCU, their plan is to help me graduate in 2019 in which I’ll be able to do that more comfortably, hence I chose FGCU.”
Last year, Pickering helped the Hawks to a 34-6 record and earned National Jr. College All America honors after they won the bronze medal. This year, they finished 21-9, with a 5-3 conference record and failed to advance to the state tournament to defend their title.
The team that she will join in August 2017 she said, is intense and competitive and the intensity is not only from the players but, from the coaching staff. She said the head coach is fairly new to the program and is trying to build them up to be among the best in the country.
“He’s only been there for three years and this season they had a 15 game winning streak and finished with 21 victories and were third in the Atlantic Sun conference,” she said. “So far, volleyball has brought me a long way and I’ve improved so much in the game from last year to this year, so going to a Division I school and going in as a Junior, I just want to do the same things so that I can improve move and be better and open up more opportunities for myself through volleyball.”
While she is ranked in the top 15 Jr. College blockers, Pickering said the Eagles has a different style of blocking something she’ll have to learn and adjust to.
“To make improvements in my overall game, I’ll have to more ball handling and work on serving,” she said.