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An act of Faith

CHS volleyball standout Grant finds perfect fit at Erskine

Posted: April 26, 2017 2:07 p.m.
Updated: April 28, 2017 1:00 a.m.
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CAMDEN HIGH’S FAITH GRANT signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her academic and volleyball-playing endeavors at Erskine College. Joining the former Lady Bulldog volleyball all-state selection are, from row from left, her stepfather Rick Starnes, her mother, Brenda Starnes, her father, Carey Grant, and her stepmother, Mary Margaret Grant. Standing, from left, are CHS head volleyball coach Paige Wilson, CHS assistant volleyball coach Tristany Horton, CHS assistant volleyball coach Abby Spitzer, Grant’s older sister and former CHS volleyball player Madison Grant, CHS principal Dan Matthews and CHS athletic director Jimmy Neal.

Finding the right college can sometimes be an exhausting and overwhelming experience for a high school student.

Then, there are people like Faith Grant who see and hear what they like and know which school in which place in best for them.

Even before the Camden High senior volleyball all-state selection played in last fall’s North-South All-Star matches at Erskine College, Grant had a feeling the Due West institution was where she both wanted and needed to call her second home for the next four years. 

Last week, Grant sewed things up with the Flying Fleet by signing her National Letter of Intent with the NCAA Division II program. Even before the ink was dry on the paper, the six-footer knew she had made the right decision.

“It was just that perfect fit for me. I wanted that small town environment because that is what I’m used to,” she said after her signing ceremony held inside the Camden High library.

“I went there for the North-South game and I knew that just by playing on that court, meeting the coaches and meeting the girls on the team, it just felt like home to me. That’s exactly what I wanted. I’m a home body so I knew that I wanted to go somewhere that felt exactly like home and I knew that there was no place I would rather be than there.”

Grant said that she and Erskine head coach Heather Vahjen started getting into serious discussions about the CHS standout joining the Flying Fleet program in October. When Grant finally made it to the campus for all-star week, it all but sealed the deal. 

“Going to play there, was cool because I kind of knew that was where I wanted to be,” she said.

An All-Region 4-AAA performer and Camden’s player of the year as a junior, Grant took her game to new heights this past fall in helping the Lady Bulldogs to the AAA Upper State title in a post-season run which ended with a loss to Bishop England in the state finals. Along the way, the four-year letterwinner piled up the honors in being name to the AAA All-State team, the 4-AAA All-Region squad while being tabbed to play in the season-ending North-South volleyball matches.

One person not fazed by Grant’s progression to becoming one of the state’s top volleyball talents was CHS head coach Paige Wilson.

“I expected Faith to have a big senior year,” Wilson admitted. “You could just see that she was ready to carry the lead and was ready to step it up. She wanted it really bad.

“I saw that potential in her for a long time. Each year, you could see that she was getting better and better and things were clicking more for her. She was a leader both on and off the court for us. She was definitely one of my ‘go to’ girls.”

Grant was a key component in Camden’s fashioning a 32-5-1 record in 2016 while playing for the program’s first state championship since 2002. In the finale, the Lady Bulldogs ran into the buzzsaw that is Bishop England, which set a new national record in winning a 17th consecutive state title in a three-set sweep of Camden.

Grant, who helped stage a Camden comeback in the second and third sets following the team’s slow start in the opener, said she still has bad memories of that afternoon at Dutch Fork High School. She said she is still not over the loss some four months later.

“It took me a while to get over it,” she said. “I beat myself up for awhile about it. At the end of the day, though, I knew that my team and I did everything we could. I thought we gave them a pretty good run for the money. We didn’t do so hot the first set but I was proud of us for getting where we got.

“I wouldn’t say that I’m completely over it now. There are a lot of things I’d want to change but at the end of the day, there are not a lot of people get to say that they completed their high school career playing for a state championship. That’s something that I will always cherish; all those memories ... because it’s not just about the wins and the losses.”

Grant will have the opportunity to create more memories at Erskine as she follows through on a dream of being able to play volleyball at the collegiate level. Even though she started playing the sport seriously at the age of 10, it was not until she reached high school that she began thinking she was good enough to play college ball.

“I started thinking that I could play in college probably my freshman or sophomore year,” she said. “The nutrition ... and I love working out and lifting weights (were important in her blossoming career.) When I started falling in love with those things is when I knew that I wanted to play (college) volleyball. My coaches, like Coach Wilson, have pushed me for years and had told me each and every day that ‘You’re good enough.’

“I developed a belief in myself that pushed me to want to play college volleyball.”

“I saw her grow,” Wilson said of Grant’s progression both on and off the court. “From the beginning, she just got better and better and better. We saw her potential very early on but she also worked very hard. She’s passionate for the game. She was fully committed to volleyball and put in a lot of time both in-season and out of season. It’s just been awesome to see it pay off for her in the end and do what she has always wanted to do. 

“Faith is just a wonderful young lady. She is top-notch in every way.”

Grant started playing volleyball at eight when she was also playing softball. Some two years later, she started concentrating solely on volleyball and the next year, she joined Columbia-based Magnum Club Volleyball, a program she continued playing with through high school. One of her coaches at Magnum was Bryan Piro who, like Wilson, pushed Grant to be a better player.

 “I knew I loved the game but I never really knew if I was good enough to go to the next level,” Grant said. “My 16s coach, Bryan Piro, really invested a lot in us and he pushed me beyond the limits that I ever thought I was capable of. Playing for him taught me that I was good enough and it also gave me that boost in confidence but also that tough love that showed me that I was made for this.”

Grant, who intends to major in sports management at Erskine, said the speed of the game will change even though she played on fast offenses in high school and club volleyball. She said she needs to improve her court vision, blocking and lateral movement in preparing to make an impact in college.

Off the court, Grant said the biggest adjustment she will have to make is not having her parents there every day to offer advice and encouragement. As someone who values family and her small town roots, she said her parents had plenty to do with this day becoming a reality for her as she prepares to head off to what has become her dream school.

“I depend on my parents for a lot and I give them a majority of the credit for this,” she said. “I’ve put in the workouts and stuff but they’ve driven me everywhere, they’ve given the money to get me to where I am.

 “I love the fact that I’m going to a school that I’ve fallen in love with. I know it’s exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

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