Tuscola's Kayden Mallette signs with Felician University volleyball

Jan. 27—Tuscola High School senior Kayden Mallette signed a letter of intent to continue her academic and volleyball-playing career with the Felician University Golden Eagles in Rutherford, New Jersey.

Her signing took place Monday, Jan. 23, at the Tuscola High School gymnasium.

"I'm so excited to sign and play at the next level," Mallette said after signing. "I feel very accomplished."

She said there were doubts along the way, but her love for volleyball drove her to continue to push for her dream of playing college volleyball.

Mallette's start in volleyball wasn't a traditional path.

"I started in seventh grade because my mom forced me to play a fall sport, and I fell in love with it," She said.

Mallette had an accomplished playing career with the Mountaineers, highlighted by achieving 1,000 career digs this season. She played with Xcel Volleyball Performance, a WNC-based volleyball club.

"I wanted to play more elite," she said of Xcel. "They've helped a lot with recruiting."

Feclian University is a Division II school, something Mallette always wanted in her future home.

"I knew I wanted to play Division II and did not want to play Division I, which is very mentally and physically exhausting. A lot of times, I hear you don't get to have the full college experience. I like that in Division II, you still get to play top-level volleyball, but you also get to enjoy college," she said.

Mallette recently visited the school, which is 20 minutes from New York City.

"They picked us up from the airport, and we toured the school. There was another recruit there with me, and we got along very well," she said. "I got to go with the players and they took us into the city. It's a great atmosphere up there."

Kim Butrico is the head volleyball coach and Warren Tom is her assistant coach. Butrico is in her second season coaching the Golden Eagles.

"The coaches are amazing," Mallette said. "They're fun people and I like their coaching style. This year, [Butrico] is trying to build the program and bring in top-level recruits."

Even though she'll be over 700 miles from home next fall, Mallette said it's only a few hours' plane ride away. Plus, she'll be busy. Mallette plans to major in criminal justice with aspirations of becoming an FBI profiler.

"Our coach is very flexible with our schedules. Our practices are later at night, so we'll be able to do our homework before we go to practice," she said.