Ngumire realizes dream by signing with Tiffin

Published 8:48 pm Sunday, February 26, 2023

Fairland Lady Dragons’ Kalei Ngumire signed a letter-of-intent to play volleyball at Tiffin University. Attending the signing ceremony were: seated left to right, father Robert Ngumire, Kalei and mother Karol Blevins; standing left to right, stepmother Hannah Ngumire and stepfather Jesse Reynolds. (Photo by Tim Gearhart)

By Jim Walker

PROCTORVILLE — Instead of trying to make a dream come true, Kalie Ngumire was lost in limbo.

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An injury in the eighth grade made her high school volleyball career a question mark, let alone playing at the college level.

But after her recovery from surgery, Ngumire put together an impressive career for the Fairland Lady Dragons and now the senior standout has signed to play for Tiffin University.

Kalei Ngumire

Ngumire has played volleyball since the fifth grade with the exception of her freshman year when she dislocated her knee cap in seventh grade and need surgery following her eighth grade season.

“It was very invasive surgery,” said Ngumire who also had bow surgery when she was five-years-old when she fell off the monkey bars on the playground.

“I’m supper excited for this opportunity because when I was at the end of my eighth grade season I wasn’t sure I was going to play volleyball again because of my injury. To come from there and to work my way up to now and al my accomplishments in volleyball it has been spectacular.”

Named the Southeast District Coaches’ Player of the Year and helping the Lady Dragons to the district tournament helped Ngumire gain some attention from colleges.

“I picked Tiffin because I originally went on a visit to Heidelberg and on my way up there my dad was calling some friends because he went to Tiffin for two years before transferring to Marshall,” she said.

“He was calling some friends and my uncle Rudy (Brownell) is the head men’s soccer coach at Tiffin and he wanted me to come by and just say hi and talk to the volleyball coach because Tiffin and Heidelberg are like 5, 10 minutes away from each other and they’re kind of like rivals but not really because they are in different divisions.”

Kalie’s father Robert Ngumire played at Tiffin for two years and then spent two years playing and two more years coaching, both at Marshall.

Once she met with the volleyball coach her dream was ready to exit limbo and enter the dream world.

“So, I went in there and the volleyball coach was already going to talk to me because she had seen my recent accompaniment of getting district player of the year and then she watched my (film) footage and I went in there and she immediately offered me,” said Ngumire.

“I had already walked through the campus because I’ve been there many times because I have family there. So after that, I just fell in love. A lot of people want to move away from home but it kind of just did feel like home. So I really enjoyed that.”

Another factor was Tiffin signing Fairland point guard Tomi Hinkle prior to basketball season.

“I still wasn’t sure I wanted to play (volleyball) in college and then I realized (Hinkle) was going and when I went to Tiffin it kind of helped influence going there because I knew I’d have at least one person there with me,” Ngumire said.

The 5-foot-10 Ngumire said there is no set position for her coming in as a freshman and she understands what it will take to play.

“I know that if I want a spot on the team I have to work for it,” she said. “Everything is not going to be guaranteed.”

In her off-time from school and volleyball, Ngumire hangs with friends, attend other sporting events, helps her father at his soccer facility in Huntington, W.Va. She played basketball her sophomore year and travel ball but it took away her time to work on volleyball.

Ngumire plans to major in nursing and then later attend anatheisa school in order to become a nurse anesthesist.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do after high school. I originally wanted to become a nutritionist but then I realized it wasn’t something I really wanted to pursue. So, I was talking with my family and I decided on anesthetist,” said Ngumire who has a 3.6 unweighted grade point average.