Incoming freshman blocker Lauren Kirch’s decision process to play at Texas State was unlike most student athletes. Kirch placed her education at an equal, if not higher, priority than her collegiate sports career, and that landed her in San Marcos.
Growing up, Kirch was always the “gentle giant” of the family as her mother, Susan, refers to her. Always being among the tallest students in her class was something Kirch had to adjust to right away. Kirch is 6 feet 2 inches, tied for the third-tallest on the volleyball team.
“She never really liked being tall,” Susan Kirch said. “From the time she was born she was always taller than everybody else.”
Lauren played volleyball, basketball and soccer before committing to volleyball in high school and eventually playing for the Dallas Skyline junior volleyball club. Lauren says it wasn’t a difficult decision to choose volleyball over other sports.
“Contact sports aren’t really my favorite,” Lauren said. “I bruise easily and stuff like that. I just figured playing with a net between me and the opponent would kind of be best.”
But it was more than just being in a non-contact sport. Susan describes Lauren as reserved and laid back, but she’s a different person on the volleyball court.
“I could see the competitiveness come out in her that I hadn’t seen before,” Susan said. “She’s not outwardly competitive. She’s internally competitive.”
One moment stands out to Lauren and her mother that echoes her competitiveness—Lauren’s ace-serve to beat her then high school rival, Coppell, in the season opener.
“Game point, I served it straight over, and it wasn’t even touched so that was a really, really good moment,” Lauren said.
Her mother says she’ll never forget Lauren’s excitement when her serve gave Hebron High School the victory over the defending state champions who had ended their previous season.
When it became clear that Lauren’s talent could take her through college, the decision on where to go hinged on one thing: which school would let her pursue her dream of completing nursing school?
Since she was six years old, Lauren has wanted to be a nurse.
“I love volleyball,” Lauren said. “It’s a huge part of my life, but the education part is way more important to me. When I was looking at a bunch of schools, nursing was number one for me.”
When she visited Texas State, Coach Karen Chisum and Texas State offered Lauren a scholarship with a fifth year, allowing her to delay the start of her nursing program until her final year of Division I eligibility.
“I think that’s kind of what really sold her on Texas State—that and she loves Coach Chisum,” Susan said.
Coach Chisum was completely on board with Lauren’s ream occupation. It was not hard for Lauren to commit to a coaching staff and an athletic program willing to commit to her future, even after her playing time concluded. The extra time gives Lauren one year to focus on completing nursing school.
“I knew they were big family-oriented people,” Lauren said. “They didn’t just care about their players’ volleyball abilities. They truly cared about the real world.”
Lauren has begun practicing with the volleyball team to prepare for the upcoming fall season, and, despite being education-focused, she still has one goal in mind.
“I want a ring,” Lauren said. “Hopefully at some point through my four years playing I can get at least one.”
Follow Ishmael Johnson on Twitter: @Ish_46