In college, they will see each other on the opposite side of the volleyball net. On Wednesday, the trio signed their letters of intent to three Division III colleges in the Ohio Athletic Conference. Witnessing their big day were their parents, friends, volleyball teammates and other Norwalk High School student-athletes.
Davidson will study pharmacy at Ohio Northern University. Kelley will major in financial mathematics at the University of Mount Union, and Smith will study athletic training at Heidelberg University.
NHS volleyball coach Angie Kalizewski said she will miss each of the girls, especially their leadership skills, but noted it will be fun to see them play each other in college.
“They are going to be very good competitors,” Kalizewski said. “Each player is“going to shine on the collegiate level. They all set the tone for the (Norwalk) program.”
“You’re not going to get three better girls than these three,” said Josh Schlotterer, NHS director of student activities.
Davidson, the daughter of Scot and Tina, chose to major in pharmacy because she enjoys chemistry.
“It seems like a good job,” she said. “Ohio Northern has a good pharmacy program and I’m excited to play volleyball there as well.”
Last season, Ohio Northern finished second in the OAC. There are nine teams in the conference.
“I’m excited to compete against them (Kelley and Smith) because we’ve been working together for so long. It will be exciting when my team beats one of their teams,” Davidson said.
At Norwalk, Davidson was a libero, a defensive specialist. She will continue in that role at Ohio Northern.
“When I talked to them initially, they said I was pretty scrappy. I don’t like to let the ball drop,” she said.
Davidson was a senior captain at NHS. Davidson also earned first-team Sandusky Bay Conference Lake division, and first-team district honors her last season. In her junior year, she received second-team Northern Ohio League and third-team district honors and All-Ohio honorable mention.
“Anne has been a really key player (in) our program. She works extremely hard. She’s in the weight room every day — expecting her peers to be there along with her — not just there, but working hard and getting better,” Kalizewski said. “She’s a super aggressive player and also fun and loving and helping others around her; that’s what she loves to do.”
Considered the “quarterback on defense,” Davidson had a total of 1,086 career digs, 84 aces and 27 kills.
“She really embraced that role and was able to take it and run with it and really shine out there,” Kalizewski said.
Kelley, the daughter of Jeff and Jackie, chose to study financial mathematics at Mount Union because of her love of math. Her career goal is become an actuary at an insurance company or bank, calculating the risks of investments or someone being in an accident.
“Anne and I have played together since we were in fourth grade,” Kelley said. “Hopefully it will be a good competition (in college) and an opportunity to stay in touch. The campus is really beautiful. It’s somewhere I felt safe; it’s a friendly community.”
Kelley played setter at NHS, a role she will continue at Mount Union. At Norwalk, she had 2,812 career assists, 775 digs and 59 kills.
Her senior year she was the team MVP, earned first-team, district honors and was All-Ohio honorable mention. Kelley second-team district her junior year. For her last two seasons, she earned the hustle award. She was also All-NOL and SBC Lake first team in each of the past two seasons.
Kalizewski considers Kelley more of a quiet, reserved leader who ran the entire offense.
“When she speaks, they listen. They know she has their best interest at heart and (is) gonna help them win,” Kalizewski said. “She’s a very smart player, so the kids look to her to make good decisions.”
Smith, who will major in athletic training at Heidelberg, said she hopes to make difference with kids and help student-athletes avoid injuries.
When asked about playing against Davidson and Kelley, she said, “it’s definitely going to be a lot different because I’ve been playing with those girls since the seventh grade.”
At Heidelberg, she said a key will be connecting with other freshmen and her teammates.
“(Coach Jason Miller) definitely puts academics over athletics. He cares a lot about his players. He’s going to challenge us and make sure we’re successful,” Smith added.
At Norwalk, Smith played middle hitter. She might be there again in college, or playing on the right side of the court.
Smith had 448 career kills, 98 blocks and 35 aces. During her senior year, she earned first-team, all-SBC and second-team district honors. Smith received the most improved award for her sophomore and junior years.
“She’s that big hitter that you’re always looking for and you can put the ball in her hands and she’s going to put it away,” Kalizewski said. “Aimee has worked so hard over the last four years and embraced everything I was trying to teach her. She took it and ran with it and improved so much.”
The Norwalk coach expects more greatness from Smith at Heidelberg.
“I think you’re going to see her have a really good career,” Kalizewski said.
She will miss the leadership from Davidson, Kelley and Smith.
“That’s a hard quality to come by and all three have it,” Kalizewski said. “I knew from the get-go they were down to business. They were excited and wanted to play. It was going to be fun along the way — as long as you were getting the job done.”