MATTOON — Before coming to Lake Land College to play volleyball, Demmie Long had the opportunity to go to the University of Illinois Springfield. But she was given the advice to go to Lake Land, which the Neoga native did.
For the last two years, Long has been a setter and defensive specialist for the LLC volleyball team. She will add more to her plate next year because not only will she be a walk on for the UIS volleyball team, Long will also be a member of the UIS track and field team.
For Long, the opportunity to play at the NCAA Division II level was too much to pass up. She drew interest from some NAIA and D-III schools, but UIS and Maryville University, another D-II school, stood out.
"I knew I didn't want to go to an NAIA or D-III school because a lot of those schools are really expensive," Long said. "I had a couple of D-II looks and the fact that UIS could offer me volleyball and track was a plus."
Maryville was interest in Long, but only for volleyball and she wanted to compete in both sports, giving UIS the edge.
"UIS, I was talking to them my senior year out of high school and it was just something that continued when I was at Lake Land," Long said. "UIS said the smartest thing for me to do was to start for two years at Lake Land, progress and contact them after my two years here. My skill set wasn't where they wanted it then, but they said it's a lot better now."
Lake Land coach Ashli Robison said she was a bit surprised about Long signing with UIS.
"She came to me about track," Robison said. "She visited all of these schools and volleyball was a big thing. UIS wasn't in the picture and then she told me she committed for track and volleyball. I am very proud of her. I am glad she gets to do both. I think she will do great and she will see how doubling in two sports goes, but she will do fine. She is a great student and a great girl."
Long, who is in a pre-med track academically, played in all 35 of Lake Land's matches and finished with a team-high 647 assists. She was third on the team with 361 digs.
"The coach is excited to have me," Long said. "She likes that I am quick on defense and that's something that setters lack. Some setters don't like to play defense, but that's probably what I am best at."
Even though Long took two years off from competing at track since LLC doesn't have a team, she is ready for the challenge and plans to run the 400-meter dash and the 800-meter run in Springfield.
"They also want me to be a main participant in the relays," Long said. "I like to run. I know that I am pretty quick and I have always enjoyed the competition of it."