Abby Richmond signs a national letter of intent to play volleyball at North Park University. Pictured with Abby are (in front) her mother, Sherri, and her father, Jim; (back row) sister, Gracie, and brother Eli.

PAOLA — The thrill of being part of a team and growing with a group is taking Abby Richmond to the Windy City.

Richmond, a Paola senior, signed a national letter of intent to play volleyball at North Park University in Chicago.

“I knew I wanted to continue to play volleyball because I love the team atmosphere,” Richmond said. “I can lean on my teammates to continue to push me to be a better athlete and a better person.

“What really led me to North Park was the team environment I witnessed during my visit,” Richmond said. “I like the environment of being in the city and being able to push myself out of my comfort bubble.”

North Park University recruited Richmond to play middle blocker and made signing her an emphasis.

“I think it is just really cool to know that I can make it and I can do it,” Richmond said. “Someone believes in me enough to recruit me. They believe that I will be an important part of their team and that I can help them win games at the college level.”

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.

“It is always a proud moment seeing your players go on to compete after high school,” Paola coach Kirby Kenny said. “Abby has always been a leader on and off the court.

“She is known for her pep talks, her teammates love that she is encouraging and positive, but also holds them to high expectations to play together. I have no doubt she will bring those skills with her to the next level.”

Richmond had 174 kills and 66 blocks for the Paola Lady Panthers this season.

In addition to playing for the Lady Panthers, Richmond plays from summer to spring with the Midwest Juniors.

Richmond started playing volleyball six years ago when she was in sixth grade.

“Coach Kenny, just because she has been around so many girls who have gone onto the next level and played in college, she has been an incredible support system,” Richmond said. “She has helped me become comfortable with being uncomfortable and pushed me to believe that I can be successful at the next level. My teammates have constantly been my biggest fans. They have always been right there cheering me on and telling me I can do it.”

Richmond plans on majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism.

Abby is the daughter of Jim and Sherri Richmond.

Sports Editor Gene Morris can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or gene.morris@miconews.com.

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