Lady Patriots senior T.J. Folse earns volleyball scholarship from Austin College
After four strong years as a key cog on the Prairiland Lady Patriots varsity volleyball team, standout senior middle blocker T.J. Folse is returning to the volleyball court with a new team. T.J. is extending her volleyball career after she earned a scholarship from Austin College, a private, four-year liberal arts university in Sherman.
For T.J., finding the place she could see herself thriving in athletically, academically, and socially was her top priority, and she believes she’s found that in Austin College.
“When I went to the campus, it was really easy to get around. It was a beautiful and small campus, so it will be easier to get to classes, which I like because it means less walking for me,” T.J. said. “I got to meet the coach and the gym was nice. I met the team at an open gym, and they were all really welcoming. I wanted to play but I couldn’t because of COVID. Then, I went out to eat with the coach and a few of the girls. It was fun and I think we kind of bonded and clicked, and I think I’m really going to enjoy it — it felt like it could be a home for four years. I just really loved it there.”
T.J. was a part of several successful volleyball teams at Prairiland. During her career, T.J. helped lead her team to two district titles and a trip to the Regional Semifinals for the first time since 2004 during her junior year.
Even though the Lady Patriots had to fight to earn respect and their way up the ladder, T.J. feels confident that her mental toughness, work ethic, and winning experiences will be with her in her next chapter of her volleyball-playing career.
“Throughout my time playing at Prairiland, I feel like our teams have always started out as a young, new group, and we’ve always had to battle and compete,” T.J. said. “That’s what I’m going to have to do when I play at college because it’s a whole new level of competition, and I’m just going to go out there, compete, and show some grit.”
Earning an athletic scholarship from any college is a tall order, and it requires plenty of time, dedication, and her high school experiences have helped her along with the years she spent playing club and travel ball, too.
“I put in countless hours of playing travel ball and club ball, and this year I decided to play with a national club team, which I think has really helped out,” T.J. said. “It’s helped me with my vertical and has overall been a whole new experience for me. We’ve gotten to travel and play nationally-ranked teams, which has been really fun. Going and playing college-level ball right now at those national tournaments is fun, it feels good, and I can’t wait to do it in college.”