Kiana Mack graduates early from SHS

Kiana posing on her signing day. Photo courtesy of Solon Athletics.

Kiana posing on her signing day. Photo courtesy of Solon Athletics.

Melissa Ellin, Editor in Chief

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College admissions decisions have started rolling in, and seniors are fantasizing about college life. For one Solon High School (SHS) senior, Kiana Mack, that fantasy has come to fruition. Mack signed with University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB)–for volleyball–and started her Spring Semester there.

For Mack, the planning for college began a couple years ago.

“The whole recruiting process started sophomore year, and then junior year was when I decided I wanted to go to UAB, so after that happens, they just give you a day senior year to sign, so that’s what I did,” Mack said.

She knew she wanted a college with a great volleyball team and Health Science program, so she kept these conditions in mind during her decision last year. Now that everything’s official, she said she couldn’t be happier.

“[Finally signing] was a big relief, because when you first commit junior year, you know you’re probably going to go there, but there’s so many things that can fall through,” Mack said. “Once you officially sign, it’s in writing and you have to go, so it’s a big relief that I’m finally going to go.”

Kiana explained that it’s common for volleyball players to head to college early, and this was also part of her plan.

“My junior year, I realized that I could have had enough credits [to graduate]…” Mack said. “So, when I was going and visiting colleges, I was like ‘Is it possible if I came half a year?’ And they were like ‘Yeah, you would just have to meet these certain requirements.’ So, [for] most of the colleges, I [already] had the credits to go to the college, I just had to finish the ones in high school, so I just [needed] a semester English class.”

Her junior year, Mack was prepared for college to start as far as credits were concerned, but not quite mentally, which is why she decided to wait a little longer.

“I felt like I wasn’t ready [to leave yet], because I would have been 17 in college, and I didn’t want to be that young,” Mack said. “And also, then I would have started playing right away, and I would have missed out on my junior year of playing travel volleyball…”

Mack’s friend and teammate, Kailee Grimm, knew this was in the cards for her.

“I actually wasn’t surprised [when I heard she was going to UAB], and [I] was really excited for her,” Grimm said. “I know how much she loves UAB and the volleyball program, so leaving early suits her perfectly.”

No matter how prepared she is for college though, there will be a learning curve.

“…when I go to college, I’m gonna be challenged, because there’s going to be a lot of girls who are older than me and stronger than me, and have been playing at this level,” Mack said. “So, it’s going to be hard for me to adjust at first, whereas high school volleyball, I walked into my senior year knowing what I was doing.”

Mack’s other friend and teammate, Naeemah Story, said she thinks Solon Schools will be affected by her departure as well.

“As seniors, we are both leaving the Varsity Volleyball program this year, however, I believe that Kiana has left a legacy that future volleyball players will talk about in the years to come,” Story said. “The underclassman, and even the middle school players look to her as a role model.”

The absence of Mack not only as a player, but as a friend will not be taken lightly.

“She’s a great person and player, and I’ll miss her support on and off the court,” Grimm said.

Mack touched on her sadness over leaving her friends before the school year ends.

“I’m probably going to miss most, not high school, but seeing all my friends everyday,” Mack said.

Regardless of where Mack is heading though, her friends will stay as such, and they wish her luck at UAB.

“I couldn’t even imagine what I would say to Kiana if I were to say goodbye,” Story said. “There is so much history between us that I don’t think I’d be able to put it into words. Also, I refuse to fall out of contact with her once she leaves because our friendship is too great for that. So instead of saying goodbye forever, I would wish her good luck during her spring season at UAB (even though she won’t need it because she’s going to do great), kick some [butt], enjoy the warm and sunny weather, and [know] that we all will be cheering [you] on from Cleveland.”