Lester finds a college home with a family affair touch
CHESAPEAKE — When Carley Lester went looking for a college it became somewhat of a family affair.
Lester was directed to Bluffton University that just happened to be located at nearby Ohio Northern, the same school where her brother Blake is a freshman pitcher on the baseball team.
The Chesapeake Lady Panthers 5-foot-9 senior volleyball standout signed a letter-of-intent on Thursday with the Lady Beavers and will now be somewhat reunited with her brother.
“Me and my dad (Kent Lester) were just Googling top dietetic schools in Ohio with volleyball and Bluffton was the number one school that popped up and we were like ‘wow, that’s 15 minutes away from my brother’s school.’ That was so convenient,” said Lester.
“So we just started just chatting with (Bluffton). The head coach was in contact the whole time. I didn’t even meet an assistant coach until I went to one of the games. You felt like they really cared about you personally.”
A perennial Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference power, Bluffton was 19-13 last season and made a third straight trip to the NCAA Division III regionals only to lose in the second round to Wittenberg.
“The coach (Steve Yarnell) said they like for all their players to be well-rounded. I’m expecting him to try me at all positions. I can either play back row or front row. I prefer the front row. I’m an outside hitter. I like to swing and hit. I also like back row, but front row is my favorite,” said Lester.
“As far as playing time I’m not really concerned. I’m just going to go up there and not expect a lot of playing time because you don’t know. I’m just going to work my hardest and if I get to play then that’s great, but if not then I’m just going to sit back and support the team because we’re family.”
While Lester is excited about the opportunity to play college volleyball at a good program, she said her main priority is getting an education.
“Going to a D-3 schools they are more flexible with your class work and the volleyball schedule is more flexible,” said Lester.
“It’s education focused. You know why you are there. You’re going to be focused on education while you’re playing volleyball, not playing volleyball while you’re getting an education.”
Besides the influence of her parents Kent and Sandy Lester, Carley said her coaches — Pam Noble and Cathy Cheek who introduced her to the game and Becca Cremeans her high school coach — have stressed the importance of education above volleyball.
“I started playing for Becca Cremeans my sophomore year and it was for travel ball and she has just been the best,” said Lester.
“She’s helped me many hours after practice. She even video-taped and ran the drills in my scouting video. She instills stuff in us not just volleyball but outside of volleyball. She’ll always be the person that you can go to.”
Lester said becoming a dietician has been a long-term interest for her.
“Ever since my freshman year I’ve been interested in food and how it works in the body. Dietetics is really the study of the use of foods and diseases for people who have diabetes or heart problems so you can tell them what they can eat and what they shouldn’t eat,” said Lester.