PAOLA — For the past 11 years, a dedicated group of girls have been battling the heat at the Paola Firehouse Gymnasium to work on their skills at the Marcum Volleyball Academy.

It is a summer-long volleyball academy that helps prepare girls for middle school, high school and even college.

The academy was limited to 65 girls this summer, coming from Paola, Osawatomie, Prairie View, Spring Hill, Louisburg, Wellsville, Ottawa, De Soto, Bonner Springs and Olathe.

The academy is run by Cadi (Stuteville) Marcum, a graduate of Paola High School. She was the Class 4A State Player of the Year and Kansas High School Player of the Year her senior year. She signed with the Kansas Jayhawks on a full-ride scholarship for volleyball.

She continued to play AAU volleyball and coached club teams for nine years. She was inducted into the Paola High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.

Marcum was vice president of the Miola Volleyball League for six years. Fifty kids were enrolled in the league the season she started, and the league grew to more than 130 her final year with the league.

“I love that I have so many kids come back summer after summer,” Marcum said. “I love seeing their progress from year to year and watching them grow as players and as young women. Usually, the girls who come back in the summer who are playing in college programs, I have coached for quite a few years so I have a really good relationship with them. I love seeing them in the summer and spending time with them and seeing how much they have grown.”

Chandler Karr, a former academy player, was back again this summer as a guest instructor.

Karr played collegiate volleyball at Neosho Community College, where she was a two-year starter, and Fort Lewis College. She was a Tri-County Spotlight Volleyball Player of the Year for the Paola High School Lady Panthers.

“I enjoy Chandler coming and helping me run academy,” Marcum said. “Chandler is like a daughter to me, so I love having her come and work with me, and all of the kids love having her there to help them.”

Madie Ballou of Osawatomie and Abby Richmond of Paola worked out at the Marcum Volleyball Academy prior to leaving for the start of the collegiate season.

Ballou is playing volleyball for Cape Fear Community College volleyball team in Wilmington, N.C. She was a four-year member of the Osawatomie Lady Trojans volleyball program and worked several summers with the academy. Ballou, a Tri-County Spotlight Volleyball first-team selection, helped lead the Lady Trojan volleyball team to the Class 3A substate championship game.

Richmond signed a national letter of intent to play volleyball at North Park University in Chicago. North Park University recruited Richmond to play middle blocker and made signing her an emphasis. Richmond was a four-year member of the Paola Lady Panther volleyball program. She was an All-Frontier League Volleyball Team and All-Tri-County Spotlight Volleyball Team selection her senior season.

Morgan Clark of Paola, who worked out with the academy for several years, is headed off to Kansas City Kansas Community College. She was signed as a hitter.

Clark was a four-year member of the Paola High School Lady Panther volleyball program. She had an outstanding senior campaign. Clark was a second-team Tri-County Spotlight Volleyball Team selection at outside hitter.

The Marcum Volleyball Academy featured some talented high school players from the area as well, including setter Maddie Pitzer, hitter Maggie Kauk, hitter Emma Bishop, and defense specialist Taryn Marcum, all from Paola; defensive specialist Lauren Aust from Prairie View, hitter Evyn Richardson from Louisburg and Tiana Simmons from Blue Valley Southwest.

The academy ran for five weeks this summer, meeting on Sunday and Monday with two sessions per day.

“I like seeing all the kids’ hard work and dedication each summer,” Marcum said. “I love watching them fall in love with playing volleyball.”

Family, a dream and a promise led to a vision for the Marcum Volleyball Academy to become a reality 11 years ago.

Marcum promised her father Ron, who was dying, that she would see the dream through and open the academy. Her dream came true, and the Marcum Volleyball Academy has become part of her late father’s legacy. The academy has helped a lot of girls reach their dreams of making a middle school or high school volleyball roster, becoming a starter and even playing collegiate volleyball.

The Marcum Volleyball Academy focuses on drills, repetition and team play to build a strong foundation for the players and give them the confidence to compete in any situation, Marcum said.

There are no shortcuts to success, Marcum said. That is not just true in sports, but also in life, she said.

However, if you dream it, and put in the work, you can turn dreams into reality, Marcum said.

“I want kids to see the payoff for hard work,” Marcum said. “I wanted them to see that when things are hard at home or in school that finding an outlet that’s positive to help you forget about it for a little while and helps redirect your focus can make all the difference in the world.”

To lighten things up from time to time during the grueling workouts, Marcum has the players scrimmage in a game where they are hitting the ball under the net instead of over it.

There is also a hitting drill where players are on a knee, striking the ball under the net.

Sports Editor Gene Morris can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or

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