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Valwood senior volleyball star Adair Rodemaker completed a rare trifecta Thursday morning.
Adair, daughter of former Valdosta High head football coach Alan Rodemaker, signed a letter of intent with Division II Lenoir-Rhyne University.
Adair joins older brothers Tate and Bo Rodemaker as the third member of the Rodemaker family to head off to college. Tate is a redshirt sophomore quarterback at Florida State, while Bo went on to Georgia Southern University after high school.
“I feel like when I visited the school, it felt right,” Adair said. “Even after making my decision, nothing felt wrong about that decision. I feel good about it and I’m ready to get there and go to work.
“The coaches really made me feel like they wanted me to be a part of that team and made me feel it would be a good home for me. I met the girls and the campus was just beautiful.”
Adair was an integral part of the Valiants’ state championship run this past season, posting more than 30 kills in the championship game and helping the team to its seventh consecutive region championship and its second state championship in a row.
After losing key players Makayla Yates and Kennedy Kimbro, Valwood volleyball coach Val Gallahan expected her team to undergo a bit of a rebuild.
However, once Adair decided to transfer to Valwood for her senior year after starring at Valdosta with the Wildcats, her impact on the team was immediate.
“Coming to Valwood, the biggest part was the coaches and the teammates really made me feel like somebody, especially on the floor,” Adair said. “I felt like I had a good opportunity to lead my team and to be able to get that state championship just meant the world to me, obviously.”
Gallahan added: “Her impact was huge. When we went back (to the championship game), we actually played the same team in the state championship this year that we played last year so it was kind of funny. They had a very similar team, just older and more experienced and we had lost an All-State player in Makayla Yates and an All-State player in Kennedy Kimbro so we knew it was going to be rebuilding a little.
“But to have Adair come over, that was a pleasant surprise for her to join us her senior year. She had over 30 kills in the state championship game and we would not have been successful without her. It wasn’t just the skill part. She was able to really say with confidence, ‘I’ve got this. Set me the ball and I’ll take care of it.’ To have a player step up like that, it just provides confidence for the rest of the team. There’s no way that I could measure her impact on our success for this season.”
Adair joins a Bears team that finished 24-8 and 14-4 in the South Atlantic Conference in 2021.
According to Adair, the Lenoir-Rhyne coaching staff believes she will fit in well with the offense and could break into the starting lineup as a freshman.
Having coached Adair in middle school at various camps and working with her as a senior, Gallahan feels Adair has the confidence and ability to be an instant contributor to the Bears’ lineup.
“I think confidence is huge in volleyball – you have to know that you’re capable of doing something before you’re able to make the play on the ball or want the ball,” Gallahan said. “I think she really turned a corner as far as unforced errors, being able to have confidence and then execute those abilities with making minimal mistakes that handed a point to the other team. I feel like she’ll get to Lenoir-Rhyne and be able to contribute immediately just because of the leadership that she already has.”
Shane Thomas is the sports editor at the Valdosta Daily Times.