Note: The following appears in the September issue of Orange: The Experience. For full access to all of the publication's content, join IPTAY today by calling 864-656-2115.
For prospective student athletes, the recruiting process can be an intensive one. In some cases, stress is part of the journey to officially signing a coveted letter of intent. No one knows this better than Kaylin Korte, the latest addition to the volleyball team who recently underwent the process of transferring to Clemson.
A native of Morris, Ill., Korte quickly made a name for herself during her volleyball career at Morris High School, where she earned a number of honors thanks to her on-court performance. She holds her school record for attack attempts (2,527), kills (1,217) and blocks (183) while being named a three-time MVP and voted to the Under Armour High School team by AVCA. A highly-sought-after recruit, Korte’s talent was quite evident early on, as she committed to play for Illinois during her sophomore year of high school.
But after her freshman year, Korte believed that a change was needed for her, both athletically and personally. So she made one of the biggest decisions a college athlete can make and decided to transfer, opening herself up to a different yet very familiar process of evaluating schools to attend.
“My freshman year was fine, but I felt that I needed a different pace and that it wasn’t quite for me,” admitted Korte.
Once she was opened back up to the world of recruiting, it did not take long for Korte to get in touch with Clemson’s new head coach, Michaela Franklin, and her staff, and she knew where her next destination to continue her volleyball career should take place.
But just what is it that drew Korte to attend Clemson to play for the volleyball team? A large factor in her decision came in the form of Franklin, who pursued the outside hitter early in her high school career, but happened to miss out on her.
Now reunited with the coach who once pursued her on the recruiting trail, Korte has full confidence in her now head coach’s ability to teach and connect with the players on a deeper level beyond on-court performance.
“She was at Iowa at the time I committed during my sophomore year, which is really early to do, and she always says she was too late to get to me. Obviously, we were close after I committed, but she’s always thought that if I transferred, she was going to get me.
“But as soon as I wanted to transfer, I was on the phone with our assistant coach that night, and they flew me out the day after. I trust that she has my best interests at heart and wants me to grow as a person and a player, and I really appreciate that.”
Making the jump from a place like Illinois to Clemson can be a bit of an adjustment. However, Korte wasn’t unfamiliar with South Carolina, as she often came to the state to visit her older sister, who attended Lander. Korte credited her sister for getting her into the sport of volleyball, which manifested itself within her at the age of 10.
“Being able to watch my sister growing up and play club tournaments and all the really high volleyball clubs made me want to work harder,” said Korte.
Franklin was not the only one helping guide Korte through the transfer process. The Tigers’ newest outside hitter also credited her mother for being her steadying hand through it all.
“I’ve been really close to my mom this whole time, and it’s hard to go through the transfer process because it’s like starting the recruiting process all over again and it's pretty stressful. But my mom has been the sure voice through it all and had my back through it all, which has made it easy on me.
“I don’t think I would’ve changed it for the world. I learned a lot my freshman year, and I got to play with some of the best players in the country. The Big Ten Conference was an incredible league, and I learned a lot from high quality coaches. But coach Franklin made it very easy for me to get in here and be myself, and I really appreciate that from her.”
Korte has certainly enjoyed the team dynamics in her new location, and she has been getting along with her new teammates quite well. She has even made herself stand out by introducing them to her interesting hobby…the use of two drinking straws.
“When I drink something with a straw, I can never just use one. I have to use two straws. When there’s two straws, it’s like you get the full effect.”
Korte has been pleased by the way in which Franklin has instilled a sense of team bonding and camaraderie between the players.
“Since coach Franklin came in, she’s doing a good job of making sure we’re all mature and have each other’s back in being a team on and off the court. We’ll have dinner together, make food together, watch a movie and do little things here and there. We’re always together having a good time.
Korte is eager to prove herself while helping to spark and reinvigorate the volleyball program alongside her new teammates. While being a transfer at a new program has its own set of challenges, Korte does not regret her time at her previous institution and is looking forward to working and continuing to grow both on and off the court.
“I want to be on the board, and I want people to know who I am by the end of the season. I want to help rebuild a program, and I think my teammates are trusting me a lot now, which I really appreciate. I want to grow as a player, person and do the very best I can to prove myself.”