By Josh Brown
TROY — The heart wants what the heart wants.
And the instant Lauren Freed set foot on the College of Charleston campus, she knew what hers wanted.
“From the moment I stepped onto the campus, I knew it was my dream school,” said Freed, who will be a senior this upcoming year. “I knew I couldn’t pass it up, no matter what.”
The Troy High School volleyball standout passed up a number of other offers, waiting and hoping that the Cougars would bring an offer to the table. And after a lengthy wait, Freed got what she wanted and committed to attend and play volleyball for the College of Charleston in 2016.
And, like when Freed saw the college’s campus, seeing was also believing for the Cougars’ coaches.
“It’s insane,” Freed said. “I didn’t think it was going to happen. But this week at nationals was the first time there coach has gotten a chance to see me play. I was nervous, but I ended up playing really well — and he ended up calling the next day, and they offered me a full scholarship.”
Freed is one of the most prolific players in Troy history, holding a number of school records and closing in on more as her senior season approaches this year. She is currently holds the career record for aces with 217, aces in a season with 89 and kills in one match with 26. She is also second in career kills with 669 behind Jenna Selby, is third in career digs with 802, just a few out of second place, and she is third in kills in a season with 274 behind Selby and Beth Gruelich.
“She’s truly one of the most fun kids I’ve ever coached, and she’s the hardest working by far,” Troy volleyball coach Michelle Owen said. “She’s huge into scouting opponents and preparing, and she’s always learning to find new ways to score. She always wants to learn new techniques.”
Freed is also used to winning. When she was a freshman, Troy was 20-5 and reached the district final, then the Trojans went 16-9 and lost in the sectional title game. Her junior year, though, she helped the Trojans go 21-4 and get back to the district level. Her sophomore and junior seasons, she was named the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division Player of the Year.
Winning is something the Cougars are accustomed to, as well. Last year, they were 23-10 and narrowly missed out on a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance, falling in the Colonial Athletic Association championship match.
“College of Charleston has a great program,” Owen said. “They’re always in contention for their conference title. With how competitive Lauren is, it’s definitely a good fit.”
So when it came time to solidify her decision and commit, Freed held out for the one she wanted.
“I visited there earlier this spring, and it was beautiful. I loved it,” Freed said. “I met all the girls and coaches and loved them, but we didn’t have contact for a couple months after that, just texts here and there. Nothing serious.
“I had four or five other offers this spring. I talked to my parents a lot, and I decided I really wanted to go to Charleston. I told all the other schools no except one, put that offer on hold just in case Charleston didn’t offer. It was so stressful, it was crazy. I didn’t think it was going to happen.”
“I’m really happy she gets to go where she wanted to go. Charleston was her first choice,” Owen said.
And while Freed still hasn’t settled on what she will study in college — education or marine biology are currently options, she said — she knew she wanted to commit to where she would go before her senior year began.
“Every coach I talked to, I let them know that I wanted to be committed before my senior season began,” Freed said. “It will help me focus more on the team and our goals for this season. I’m glad all that stress is out of the way, and I’m so happy I’m going where I wanted to go.”
Because sometimes, the heart gets what it wants, too.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132 or by email at [email protected], or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.