Becoming a Rebel: Sultemeier eager to start career at Ole Miss
Fredericksburg High School standout volleyball player Aubrey Sultemeier knew she was going to play college volleyball at just 13 years of age.
Her journey to play for the Ole Miss Rebels volleyball team starts when she leaves for Oxford, Mississippi, on Monday, Jan. 15.
Exposure to a higher level of volleyball — Ole Miss plays NCAA Division I volleyball in the Southeastern Conference — is just around the corner for one of FHS’ best-ever players.
“It’s not very intimidating to me because I can hold my own, but what can be intimidating is going to be pushed harder and higher than ever before,” Sultemeier said.
Sultemeier leaves the comfort of home and family of father Farron Sultemeier, mother Jo Lynne Sultemeier and brother Payton Sultemeier and will jump right in and begin working with the team a semester early, with the hopes of making the starting roster in the fall.
After signing to play at the collegiate level, athletes spend their last semester of high school preparing to make the transition to college.
For Sultemeier, she began preparing during Christmas break 2016.
“I was sitting on the couch and thought ‘You know what? Why not get a head start and a leg up and start my career early?’”, she said. “At that moment, I knew I was going to do what I could to graduate in December of my senior year.”
Sultemeier started taking extra core classes and sacrificing extra curriculars to graduate early.
“I think it is great she has decided to graduate early,” FHS head volleyball coach Kaci Rittimann said. “She is giving herself every opportunity to be a stand out and it gives her a whole semester to get to know the team and the program.”
Rittimann, who played NCAA Division I volleyball herself at Lamar University in Beaumont, worked with Aubrey less on the fundamentals and more on developing her leadership skills during the senior’s final high school season.
“She is a very well-rounded player and we really worked and talked about her leadership and how the rest of the girls look up to her,” Rittimann said. “College is a different league and is a fresh slate. Anything she did in high school doesn’t matter. There is a bigger goal in mind now.”
Sultemeier started her career playing for the San Antonio Alamo Volleyball Association three days a week, traveling until almost midnight.
“Practices would be from 8-10 p.m. at night and then we could have to drive home,” Aubrey said. “My mom and I spent countless hours in the car, just so I could play volleyball at a high level.”
In 2014, her team won the 14U Patriot Division of the USA Volleyball National Championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and when she returned home, she said she was swamped with mail from colleges across America.
“I came home from nationals and probably had 25 pieces of mail and numerous emails from college coaches that had been at our game scouting,” Aubrey said.
It was at that moment when the recruitment process began.
Aubrey received mail and emails and phone calls from college coaches across the nation, eager for her attention and amazed by her athletic ability.
“I would say the recruitment began prematurely for me, and a lot of that is because of my height,” said Aubrey, who stands at six-foot-three.
On nights she wasn’t playing volleyball, she was contacting coaches.
“We had to make a schedule of days that she would contact and call coaches and days where she could just come home and relax,” Jo Lynne said. “She would spend several hours on the phone.”
There would be weeks that 10 schools would want to talk to Aubrey two to three times a week, something Aubrey said was stressful at times.
“It is so hard to talk to people that I don’t know, it would give me so much anxiety talking to someone that had so much power in my future,” Aubrey said.
To stay organized, Aubrey had a binder full of questionnaires and pamphlets.
“Her dad and I were so impressed with the confidence she gained in cold calling these adult professionals,” Jo Lynne said.
With so many colleges after her, Aubrey was able to narrow down her choices based on factors such as weather and whether the school offered her business major.
“I don’t like the cold at all and I am not trying to trudge my way through the snow just to get to class, so schools up north were out of the picture,” she said. “I grew up in the south and love that lifestyle.”
After another trip to USAV Nationals, Aubrey stopped at Ole Miss and LSU.
“Ole Miss was my first visit and I fell in love right away,” Aubrey said. “It sounds cliché but when you know, you know.”
“She had several offers but we knew where her heart was after visiting the University of Mississippi,” Jo Lynne said. “The coach won our family over.”
The summer after her freshmen year of high school, Aubrey made her verbal commitment and never wavered, signing her letter of intent to play for the Rebels in November 2017.
“There were a lot of choices and it was stressful but I knew I felt comfortable there,” she said.
For more on this story, read this week’s print and online editions of the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post. If you are a print subscriber, your full online subscription is free. All you need to do is call 830-997-2155 to get a password. If you are not a subscriber, call 997-2155 or click on the ‘Subscribe’ button on the left side of the home page and sign up today!