Feisty Hamilton heading to Wilmington

Rivet's Macee Hamilton signed her letter of intent to play volleyball at Wilmington (Ohio) College on Thursday at Ralph Holscher Gym. She has a laugh as she is applauded by her parents, Chris and Polly, seated beside her, and her brother, Chris, in the back row, right, along with his girlfriend, Gabby Whitsett.

Macee Hamilton was constantly playing sports at Rivet, earning 11 letters between volleyball, basketball and tennis.

But volleyball was always her favorite, and on Thursday it became the sport she's going to play in college. She signed her letter on intent at Ralph Holscher Gym to play volleyball at Wilmington (Ohio) College.

If there was one thing that stood out when watching Hamilton play all those sports for the Patriots was her drive. Although just 5-3, she didn't back down no matter what the obstacle. Hamilton said that's how she felt about playing college volleyball.

"I was determined it was going to happen. It's something I always wanted to do, and I worked hard every day in the gym so I could achieve it," Hamilton said.

Hamilton was a two-time member of the Sun-Commercial All-Area team, helping the resurgent Patriots post a 15-13 record this past season. The back row specialist collected 514 digs as a senior, eclipsing 1,000 for her career. She was second on the team with 205 service points and led the team with 100 aces.

Rivet coach Jill Ballinger loved Hamilton's reliability to do what was needed.

"Macee has been the anchor in our back row these last three years, and her work ethic and her love of the game are the reasons why she is playing at the next level," Ballinger said. "She was our top digger, passer and one of our top servers this season. We could always count on her to get us points behind the service line and then go in defensively and dig everything up."

Hamilton said she liked the added responsibilities as a senior.

"I felt like I led our team better this year. I became more of a leader," Hamilton said. "Sometimes it's hard to lead when you're not a senior, but being a senior the young girls depended on us. What I liked to do was to pump everybody up before the game."

Hamilton said she's going to miss playing basketball and tennis, but they were always behind her favorite sport.

"It's probably going to be a little weird not playing basketball or tennis this first year, but I think I'll be quite occupied with volleyball," she said. "I just like the energy of volleyball, how fast-paced it is. You can never take your eyes off the court or you're going to miss something."

Hamilton said Kentucky Wesleyan and Lincoln Trail were among her suitors, but Wilmington won out.

"They were a better fit academically. They have a good (physical therapy) department, which is what I want to major in, and I have the sports to come along with it."

Wilmington, which is in NCAA Division III, plays in the Ohio Athletic Conference, with the other league members being Baldwin Wallace, Capital, Heidelberg, John Carroll, Marietta, Mount Union, Muskingum, Ohio Northern and Otterbein.

Those are the only schools Wilmington plays this season as Covid-19 has shortened the volleyball season and moved it to the spring semester.

"It's a good opportunity to focus on my schooling. It'll also allow me to work in the gym and try to get stronger," Hamilton said. "I can get used to the team too, we can bond and getting stronger as a unit."

The team bonding is going to be needed. Wilmington had seven seniors a year ago off a 3-24 squad and has a new coach, Andy Riesenberg. Hamilton is one of 12 freshmen on the squad, and the Rivet graduate wants to play right away at her favorite position, libero.

"I know I'm going to have to fight for that position," said Hamilton, who is used to battling. "To me, libero is the most important position on the court. It all starts with the perfect pass, if you don't have that you can't set it well or finish the point."

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