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Setter Locke Luhnow signs National Letter of Intent for Trinity College volleyball

Locke+Luhnow+%E2%80%9818+smiles+after+signing+her+National+Letter+of+Intent.+Luhnow+is+Archer%E2%80%98s+second+ever+volleyball+recruit.
Locke Luhnow ‘18 smiles after signing her National Letter of Intent. Luhnow is Archer‘s second ever volleyball recruit.

Locke Luhnow ‘18 smiles after signing her National Letter of Intent. Luhnow is Archer‘s second ever volleyball recruit.

Photo credit: Cybele Zhang

Photo credit: Cybele Zhang

Locke Luhnow ‘18 smiles after signing her National Letter of Intent. Luhnow is Archer‘s second ever volleyball recruit.

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Years of late night practices, weekend tournaments and sidelining injuries all led up to one signature.

On Thursday, Feb. 8, Locke Luhnow ’18 signed her National Letter of Intent [NLI] to continue playing volleyball at Trinity College, an NCAA Division III program in Hartford, Connecticut.

Photo by Cybele Zhang
Locke Luhnow signs the NLI alongside classmate Saskia Wong-Smith ‘18. Both girls were joined by their families.

For the ceremony, Luhnow was joined by Head of School Elizabeth English, Head Coach Lainey Gera, Athletic Director Denny Lennon and her family. The room was also packed with cheering peers, teachers and coaches.

“The National Letter of Intent signing [is] where high school athletes across the country make their intention on where they’re going to go play collegiate sports,” Lennon said.

During the ceremony, Luhnow was interviewed by members of the media, then signed her NLI simultaneously with Saskia Wong-Smith ’18, who is committed to Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, for swimming.

After the ceremony, Luhnow celebrated with her varsity volleyball team by hanging Archer’s first CIF-SS Championship banner.

Despite Archer’s 23 year history, Signing Day is a relatively new tradition. Archer’s first-ever signee, Krysia Sikora ’13, signed five years ago to play soccer at Duke University. Since then, only five other athletes have signed.

Starting Volleyball

Luhnow’s volleyball career began when she was eleven.

I started playing because my sister, [Christian Luhnow ’16], was already playing club,” Luhnow said. “Her, my dad and I would play volleyball at the pool or beach, so both of them really pushed me to try club.”

Luhnow now plays for both Archer and her club, Actyve Volleyball, as a setter.

A childhood photo of Locke Luhnow and her older sister Christian Luhnow ’16. Her sister’s interest in volleyball prompted Luhnow to try the sport herself. Image courtesy of Locke Luhnow.

All of my coaches at Actyve [have impacted me],” Luhnow said. “I’ve been there for three years, and all of them have taught me so much — Lainey Gera, Danny Woodley, Jon Dazé, Kristian Kuld.”

Playing club also requires a large time commitment.

We usually have tournaments every other weekend,” Luhnow said. “Since we were in playoffs, I didn’t get home until 8 p.m., and I was at the tournament since 8 a.m.”

Luhnow’s has had a successful career in purple and green, despite only being a Panther for two years. She transferred to Archer in 2016 as a junior from Marlborough.

“The community in the sports program at Archer has influenced me because they really support you and really want you to succeed in both sports and academics,” Luhnow said. “Everyone, especially the coaches, has really shown me the importance of balancing the two.

Luhnow’s decision to transfer was also inspired by her older sister. The older Luhnow signed a NLI of her own and now plays NCAA Division I volleyball for Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.

The Recruiting Process

Unlike many collegiate players, Luhnow did not always intend to play beyond high school.

Locke Luhnow sets the ball to Cydney Davis ’18 during an Archer game. The team plays at Park Century since Archer does not yet have a gym of its own. Image courtesy of Luhnow.

“I decided in the middle of junior year that I wanted to play in college, which is very late,” Luhnow said. “I love volleyball, but I didn’t want it to be my entire college life. I didn’t want to play Division I, because volleyball is only one aspect of my life.”

Luhnow said Trinity stood out because it was a campus where she could excel in the classroom and on the court.

“My recruiting process was unlike most because it was very short,” she said. “I really loved Trinity College to begin with as a school, so being able to play volleyball there is a plus.”

Trinity is an urban liberal arts college and is the second oldest college in the state of Connecticut.

“After I did some research, I emailed the coach my resume and team information,” Luhnow said. “I would email her what court I was on at tournaments and the times I played, so she could come watch me. On phone calls, we talked about the school, the program and what I’m interested in. We just had lots of back and forth communication.”

Trinity’s head coach, Jen Bowman, just completed her fourteenth season at the school. 

“I visited over the summer and again on Labor Day,” Luhnow said. “I talked to [Bowman] in person and really showed my interest.”

Seeing her older sister Christian Luhnow already playing college volleyball further motivated her.

“Seeing how Christian came to campus with a built-in family…really influenced me,” Luhnow said. “It’s a family you can always depend on in college.”

The elder Luhnow was Archer’s first-ever volleyball recruit, and Locke Luhnow now becomes Archer’s second.

“Christian’s one piece of advice is always speak up for yourself, on and off the court,” she said.

A Season of Highs and Lows

This fall, Luhnow will continue her educational and athletic career as a Bantam, but she has already made history as a Panther.

In November, the varsity volleyball team brought home Archer’s first-ever CIF-SS Championship. Luhnow was a key member of the team’s playoff run and was featured in the starting lineup. She also won Wildcat Dig Pink Tournament MVP during the regular season.

“It’s really exciting that we won Archer’s first championship. I couldn’t be prouder of my teammates. I’m thankful for the coaches that helped us get there, and I think it really showed me that I can make an impact,” Luhnow said. “I learned not to limit myself by categorizing my ability, but I should push myself to do more.”

Locke Luhnow hits the ball on her club team. According to Athletic Director Denny Lennon and Head Coach Lainey Gera, Luhnow is unique because she can hit and set. Image courtesy of Locke Luhnow.

Luhnow, who is 5’10,” finished the season with 440 assists.

“Locke is a really versatile and strong player,” Lennon said. “Our volleyball program has always been strong, but Locke is able to hit as well as be a really good setter.”

But tragedy soon struck.

In the semi-final game against Heritage Christian, Luhnow slipped on the court mid-game and suffered an ankle injury. Nevertheless, she continued to play, and the Panthers won the game.

However, due to the injury, Luhnow was forced to sit out the rest of the season. Nevertheless, she came in during the final game to serve. The team ultimately fell in the Division 4 CIF State Playoff to Heritage Christian.

“She showed a lot of heart when she broke her ankle in the playoffs and still came out to serve for the team,” Lennon said. “That just showed a lot of determination and heart.”

Luhnow credits her success to Head Coach Lainey Gera, who has “impacted her significantly.”

“She was my club coach since eighth grade,” Luhnow said. “Now having her as an Archer coach is really great. She knows me and my strengths and weaknesses, so she can push me to improve in lots of ways — physically and mentally.”

Luhnow thinks Archer’s program is on the rise and looks forward to their future successes.

Photo by Cybele Zhang
Seniors Cat Oriel, Cydney Davis, Dani Roberts and Locke Luhnow celebrate before the signing. All were members of the record setting varsity volleyball team.

Having Lainey Gera as head coach will definitely improve the volleyball program,” Luhnow said. “She knows how to get girls interested in volleyball and knows how to help them improve.”

Lennon echoed Luhnow’s optimism.

“In the future, the Dining Hill will be expanded in order to accommodate [the signees],” Lennon said. “[Now], we only get one or two in a year. I have a feeling we’re going to see four and five, maybe even more, that are going to start to sign.”

Even though Luhnow’s time on the Archer court is over, Lennon thinks her name will be remembered.

“[She] has left [her] mark,” he said. “No doubt.”

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About the Contributor
Cybele Zhang, Editor-in-Chief

Cybele Zhang joined the Oracle writing staff in 2015. She was promoted to Sports Editor as a sophomore and to Editor-in-Chief as a senior. Over the summer of 2016, she interned at the Asian Journal, an international Filipino newspaper. She has been part of Archer’s Dance Company since 2012, where she is the current Community Outreach/Social Media Captain. Zhang is a Co-Founder of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Culture Club and leads Archer chapters of the Junior Classical League and Feed2Suceed Fund. In her free time, she enjoys playing volleyball and watching sports.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Setter Locke Luhnow signs National Letter of Intent for Trinity College volleyball”

  1. Alexandra on February 11th, 2018 5:26 pm

    Congratulations, Locke!! So happy for you <3

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