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Latrobe volleyball player headed to George Mason

| Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 6:12 p.m.

It was three years ago that a self-proclaimed gangly and uncoordinated kid named Garrett Kollar didn't make the Latrobe basketball team. With a desire to stay active and at the behest of friends, he started attending open gym tryouts for volleyball, a sport he never played before.

Fast forward to the present and that uncoordinated kid is now a 6-6 senior and Division I recruit after Kollar gave a verbal commitment Nov. 23 to play middle hitter at George Mason University. Now able to look back at everything that happened in the past few years, Kollar still can't believe that showing up for volleyball tryouts on a whim blossomed into a life-changing event.

“I ended up falling in love with it,” he said. “Each year I just kept working harder and harder and it ended up taking me here. I guess things worked out perfectly. If I didn't get cut from that basketball team, I wouldn't have been able to be here, and I'm very happy where I'm at now.”

Kollar said his first priority when selecting a school was academics. He is ranked in the top 10 percent of his class and takes advanced placement physics, calculus and computer science. He wants to major in engineering.

Kollar was offered a partial academic scholarship and the chance to compete for an additional athletic scholarship. He said the team only has four and a half full scholarships and those are divvied out to the starters.

He can't sign a letter of intent until February, but said he is “locked in” with the Patriots, who he chose over Juniata, Nazareth and Springfield College.

“Anytime you can make that decision before your season starts, you can take a little breather and just play your game,” Latrobe coach Drew Vosefski said. “It's funny at the high school level; it gives you confidence but also puts a target on your back.

“Garrett's the kind of person that regardless of what his accolades are, he's going to prove to everyone he deserves what he's got.”

Kollar is excited to play at the next level, but his immediate focus is finishing his high school career strong. Last season he had 85 kills, 25 blocks and 10 aces.

“It's not like I tell myself I don't need to get any better,” he said. “I still have a long way to go and know I have a lot to improve on.”

That attitude has carried him to this point and he hopes even further.

“I know that with more training and the attention my play style will get from (George Mason) coach (Fred) Chao and (assistant) Eli (Porr), I will be able to hang with the D-1 guys,” Kollar said.

After everything he has proved so far, it's hard not to believe him.

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.

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