Most athletes who decide to play collegiate sports know at a young age what sport they want to specialize in.
But for Kayla Vitztum, it wasn’t that easy at the beginning.
Instead, the Thomas More Prep-Marian senior could have written her ticket to college in multiple sports.
On Tuesday afternoon in the TMP cafeteria, Vitztum decided to take the volleyball route — inking a national letter of intent with NCAA Division II Newman University in Wichita.
“At first, mostly my sophomore and freshman year, I was still thinking about what my passion was,” Vitztum said. “I decided it was volleyball then, and I decided to pursue that. Basketball was always in the back of my mind, and sometimes soccer even. But I always knew it was going to be volleyball.”
Vitztum has been a mainstay on the varsity rosters for multiple sports at TMP, and helped guide the Monarchs to state tournaments in volleyball, basketball and soccer.
But it was volleyball that became her true passion.
“I just knew that I was going to play volleyball, and I started weeding down the schools and making some visits,” she said. “Newman was the one that stuck up there.”
Vitztum was a key component of a solid senior class that led the Monarchs to the Class 3A state volleyball championship a few weeks ago.
“State title, all-state honors and a college signing,” said TMP coach Natausha Dreher, who was named 3A coach of the year. “This is what she wanted. I knew when she said she wanted it, she was going to get every second of it because she works that hard and deserves it.”
Vitztum dominate opposing teams again this year with ferocious kills that continually found the hardwood. She was a go-to player when the Monarchs needed a kill for a crucial point.
“She has a knowledge of the game and a wonderful way of communicating that,” Dreher said. “She really wants everyone around her to be successful, and that makes for a great teammate. She enjoys celebrating with everyone. That has helped push her teammates and in turn, push herself too.”
The 5-foot, 10-inch outside hitter was named to the 3A state all-tournament squad, as well as being a first-team 3A selection by the Kansas Volleyball Association.
Vitztum also was named a first-team pick on the Mid-Continent League team released Tuesday as well.
“She is just such a joy to coach,” Dreher said. “She’s happy and she’s hard working and has fun. She just enjoys the sport. What about that kid is something someone wouldn’t want to coach?”
Vitztum began playing volleyball in elementary school and honed her skills as she matured.
“Maybe fourth, fifth grade and picked up on it pretty quick” she said. “I got asked to play some club ball in sixth grade. That’s where it all started for me.
“It just really stuck out to me. I didn’t expect to love it that much. Volleyball just came to me. I just had a passion for it.”
Newman proved to be an ideal fit for Vitztum.
“The campus is small, and it’s really like a good, family community,” she said. “The coaches are great, really intense — like me. I watched their girls play, and I loved the style of how they play, the energy they bring to the court. I’m excited I get to play with that.”
The commitment to the Jets made her future coach excited as well.
“I am so excited that Kayla decided to join our program,” said Newman coach Destiny Clark. “I’ve had the pleasure of watching her play multiple sports, and she is incredibly athletic. Kayla is such a talented volleyball player with an amazing work ethic, and I feel blessed to have landed her in my 2018 recruiting class. I feel like Newman will be a good fit for her academically and athletically. Kayla is going to make our team better, and I can’t wait to work with her.”
Tuesday’s signing made it official Vitztum would be competing in the sport she has grown to love.
“I was always hoping,” she said about playing at the college level. “As it got closer to my senior year, I knew this is what I was going to make sure that I was doing.”