BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan Central’s Elaina Vaughan will be trading in her car keys for a metro card in the near future.
On Wednesday, Vaughan signed on the dotted line to continue her volleyball and academic career at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, New York. The Terriers are members of the Division I Northeast Conference.
“The area around (the school) is so cool, and it has a perfect view of Brooklyn across the bridge,” Vaughan said. “I’m so excited to be a part of this team. It’s really like a family, and the coach is amazing.
“I’m not intimidated at all by the big city. I’ve been there three times.”
Vaughan, who was the Three Rivers Conference and District 1-AA tournament player of the year, helped lead the Lady Cougars all the way to the sectional round for the first time in 16 years. Central was eliminated by eventual Class AA runner-up Anderson County in straight sets.
“All of my coaches have really done a great job of telling me what I do wrong and how I can fix them,” she said. “They’ve really melded me into the player that I am today. They’ve made it an enjoyable experience, too.”
Vaughan also plays for the Tri-Cities Extreme volleyball club.
“It has been fun to watch Elaina grow as a student-athlete these last four years,” Central coach Logan Kemp said. “We’re here to celebrate not only her athletic accomplishments, but her academic ones as well.”
Vaughan should fit right in under the bright lights of New York City as she wants to go major in business and eventually work in the fashion industry.
What better place to start than in the fashion capital of the world?
“I want to go into the fashion industry, and that’s why I really wanted to go to St. Francis, too,” she said.
The Terriers in 2019 finished with an overall record of 14-17 and a 7-9 league mark. St. Francis boasts players from all around the country and the world, most notably from Puerto Rico and Serbia.
“They’ve had girls from all across the country come in,” she said. “They’ve got one from Puerto Rico that played on the national team.”
The recruitment process was somewhat different as well for Vaughan. The coaches found her on a recruiting site and have only seen her on film.
Middle Tennessee State and Lander University were also in the running for Vaughan’s collegiate services.
“(St. Francis) didn’t come to find me (in Tennessee), they found me on a recruiting site,” she said. “We just nurtured that relationship, and I sent them a lot of videos. They really liked what they saw, and it just went on from there.
“(The St. Francis coach) said I don’t have to prove myself. He said he’s seen all he needs to see on the videos.”