Robert E. Lee's Odom signs with Newberry College

By DENNIS BRUNSON dennis@theitem.com
Posted 2/13/18

BISHOPVILLE - Kaitlyn Odom did not begin to play volleyball until she was in the sixth grade. And when she did take up the sport, it wasn't necessarily because she had an overwhelming desire to do so. It came about more at the behest of a …

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Robert E. Lee's Odom signs with Newberry College

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BISHOPVILLE - Kaitlyn Odom did not begin to play volleyball until she was in the sixth grade. And when she did take up the sport, it wasn't necessarily because she had an overwhelming desire to do so. It came about more at the behest of a friend.

"I had a friend (Mary Kathryn Mozingo) who was playing, and she asked me if I wanted to play volleyball," Odom said. "I decided I wanted to, and volleyball became a passion for me."

And now Odom, who played for Robert E. Lee Academy, will get an opportunity to do so at the collegiate level. She signed with Newberry College last Wednesday on National Signing Day.

"I'm really excited to have the opportunity to play at the collegiate level," Odom said. "I've always wanted to be able to play volleyball in college."

Lady Cavaliers head coach Donna Gooding said it isn't hard to figure out why Odom is getting the chance to move on to the next level.

"She's one of the hardest working players I've ever coached, and I've been coaching a long time," Gooding said. "I told a college coach that I was willing to put my neck out on the line because of how hard she works. She is going to put in the time because she wants it.

"Kaitlyn is going to do what it takes to get better."

Gooding said Odom has always been a strong hitter at the net, but she made tremendous strides defensively between her junior and senior seasons.

"Kaitlyn really played great defense for us this year," said Gooding, who led REL to a third-place finish in SCISA Region II-2A. "She worked very hard over the summer to improve in that area."

Odom visited Newberry in November and said it just felt like the right fit for her.

"It's like the small school that I come from here at Robert E. Lee," said Odom, who helped lead the Lady Cavs to a 2-2 performance in the 2A state tournament. "It's a beautiful campus and I fell in love with it."

Another big selling point is that Odom wants to study forensics, in which Newberry offers a major.

Odom started playing volleyball at REL as an eighth-grader on the junior varsity team. She made the varsity as a sophomore.

"Around my 10th grade year is when I really started focusing on working so I could get the chance to play in college," Odom said.

Odom goes to a Newberry program that is without a head coach at the moment. Callie Youngman resigned the post in November after two years at the helm.

The Wolves were 9-18 last season and finished 5-15 in the South Atlantic Conference, an NCAA Division II school. They missed out on the conference tournament.