Wilmette, Sports

Ramblers outside hitters headed east for Division I volleyball

Opponents can normally breathe a sigh of relief when a talented attacker rotates to the back row. Loyola opponents, not so much.

That’s because when senior outside hitter Josie Fronczak rotates back, junior outside hitter Mia McGrath moves up (and vice versa) — and that’s no relief at all.

High school opponents aren’t the only ones who notice the Ramblers stars. This summer, each worked their recruitment to fruition, with Fronczak committing to Hofstra University in New York and McGrath verbally committing to Clemson University in South Carolina.

The two schools each play at the Division-I level, with Hofstra competing in the Colonia Athletic Association and Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“I am really excited,” said McGrath, of Deerfield, who announced her commitment Sept. 13 on social media. “I think it is a great opportunity for me, and I’m super excited to be part of something really special.”

Fronczak, who lives near Norwood Park in Chicago, had similar sentiments about Hofstra, which two years ago shared a conference title.

“Hofstra had everything I was looking for,” she said. “I really wanted to go to an East Coast school with good academics. I really wanted to play competitive DI volleyball. … I think it’s going to be a really great fit.” 

While each student-athlete found their next home, they conceded that the recruitment process was difficult. Volleyball showcases and tournaments were canceled and meetings with coaches were out of the question because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a sophomore, Mia McGrath takes a swing for Loyola Academy last season. PHOTO SUBMITTED

Fortunately, McGrath’s coach with Adversity Volleyball club knew Clemson head coach Michaela Franklin and put the two in contact.

Three Zoom meetings and one in-person visit sealed the deal.

“Honestly, the recruitment process definitely was not easy,” McGrath said. It was super stressful. It’s kind of nice that it’s over.”

Fronczak, whose sister Kylie is enrolled at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., had her sights set on the East Coast and said technology made the interrupted recruitment process easier.

“We’re lucky in a way that technology is allowing us to meet each other and build relationships,” she said. “It was stressful at the beginning to get a video out there that represents you as a player. But it all worked out.”

McGrath and Fronczak will be leaders for a talented Ramblers squad that saw its season pushed to the spring. So far, that disruption has not hampered Loyola’s spirits, according to coach Mallory Thelander.

“It’s actually been really positive,” she said. “We are doing a lot of virtual stuff right now and seeing high participation from girls. … We’ve had to do masks and all that, and they’ve been resilient through all that.

“They want to be on court and be with teammates … and participating in the sport that they love.”

joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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