ELKO – No one knows what the future holds, but Elko senior EmmaJay Larsen knows where her next steps will be – academically and athletically.
Larsen signed his national letter of intent to play volleyball for the University of Ottawa in Surprise, Ariz. — an NAIA program — located about a half hour northwest of Phoenix.
In 2021, the Lady Spirit had a standout season and went 26-4 overall and 17-1 in the Golden State Athletic Conference — going 1-2 in the NAIA Women’s Volleyball National Championship.
“I expect to get stronger and hopefully we can win the conference championship in the four years I’m there,” Larsen said.
Although she was unable to make an official visit to the OUAZ campus, Larsen has made a virtual visit and has been in regular contact with head coach Kristin Steele.
“Coach and I FaceTimed a lot, and we have a great vibe,” Larsen said. “The campus and facilities are newer and updated, so I liked that.”
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As for academics, she plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and potentially a minor in nutrition – seeing herself becoming a physical therapist and coach.
Larsen was also in contact with “four of the other five schools,” according to Jeffrey Chevrier – who helped Larsen with his recruiting process.
“Most of the time it was through connections and I coached coaches I knew. One of the boys I coached in California played there (Ottawa). We heard they were looking for a midfielder and could offer a scholarship, so I called Coach Steele,” Chevrier said. “But we also looked at Snow College (Ephraim, Utah) and Roque Community College (Medford, Oregon).”
In addition to playing for Elko High School — earning a 2nd-team All-North selection amid blocker — Larsen has played the past four-plus months competitively on travel ball with the Ruby Mountain Volleyball Club.
“EmmaJay was our go-to person on offense. She was one of the top two scorers on our team and she also led her team in blocking,” Elko coach Jordan King said. “She really became a leader and a dominant scorer at the end of our season after battling a knee and elbow injury.”
Current travel ball coach Jen Harris, who first coached Larsen as a sixth grader in PAL volleyball, has seen Larsen’s progression in play and as a person firsthand.
“She was one of our captains this year, and she’s really grown in that role. She led our offense with the passers and made the team successful. She’s very coachable and kind, which doesn’t isn’t easy to come by in a competitive atmosphere,” Harris said. “She’s a budding adult, and she’s going to do great things.”
“I think it’s a good deal for her. It’s quite a distance but it’s doable,” said Jay D. Larsen, EmmaJay’s father. “I’m glad she’s going to do her own thing and spread her wings. I want her to meet new people, experience different things and get out of Elko for a while.
Larsen will be required to report to the OUAZ campus early, July 24 — starting double days for volleyball on August 8 — beginning classes in mid-August.
In his recent travel ball season — starting in early January and running through April — Larsen tallied 292 eliminations, averaging 5.84 strikeouts per game.
She reached a high of 11 decisive victories on three occasions.
For blocking, she landed 87 solo rejections and assisted another 15 – averaging 1.87 blocks per game – posting a six-game best trick.
During the season, she served 67 aces and averaged 2.33 aces per game, dropping the top five aces in the contest.
Congratulations to EmmaJay Larsen on a thriving volleyball career and best wishes as she takes her next steps to the next level with the University of Ottawa.
Emma Jay Larsen