By Kyle Koso
By definition, there’s an umbrella of anxiousness when it comes to the TC NIT Unsigned Senior/Junior Workout, which took place Friday afternoon at the Kansas City Convention Center.
Any way you slice it, there are student-athletes trying to make an impression, and a few dozen college coaches looking to either solve current issues with their roster or get in the work it takes to eyeball what their team might look like in a year or two. All you can hope for is that the two-hour workout gets you closer to your goal, and maybe you toss and turn a bit less at night.
One player who showed her range of appealing skills was Sophia Ortquist, 18, who plays for the Vegas Aces club program and Nevada State High School. The accelerated pace of the drills showed her to be a physical presence at the net while also handling the ball when necessary, and the moment was useful in clarifying the work that needs to come next.
“I’m pretty chill about it. I’ve talked to a couple of schools, so I don’t feel I’m too far behind,” she said. “Maybe for a couple of things off the volleyball court I may be a little behind, but I’m catching up on it. I’ve been to a few showcases, so it’s not too bad.
“I’m not at my peak or my goal, still have work to do on my timing (as a hitter) and blocking, getting better with my footwork. This is one of my favorite showcases I’ve been to – I like the tempo. It’s player-based, where you can show your individual strengths. I wasn’t as nervous this time.”
From the coaching standpoint, there are a million stories as well, and you can be sure Nikki Binetti was hoping she could tick off a few things from her to-do list. Binetti was hired as head coach at Arcadia University in late December, and she must deal with some roster vacancies for the program out of the D-III school in Glenside, PA.
The mix of skilled players, at a variety of positions, was exactly what Binetti needed on Friday.
“I’m still looking for a decent amount of players for the (2022) class, four or five more, and I thought there would be good turnout here, good quality,” said Binetti, who was an assistant at Getysburg College for three years before taking the helm at Arcadia. “This event is one of the best, one of my favorites because of the level of talent. I want to finish off the ’22 class and dive deeper into my ’23 class and start to build my database a little bit.
“I do work ahead, check out their GPA before I even reach out to them, and that helps. Getting our name out there is always huge, and I would love to pull from West Cost and the Midwest. It starts with getting your face seen and talking with people.”
The TC NIT is known for the avalanche of college coaches who work the event and prowl the sidelines in heavy recruiting mode, but Binetti knows the D-III experience has a unique flavor and long-term value that athletes would be wise to consider.
“Just having that balance in general, of getting a really fantastic education while participating in a sport, but that sport won’t run your life,” she said. “You can do so many other things, internships, and prepare yourself for the future. That’s the D-III model and something I bought into, and what I want to sell to my team going forward.”