Despite not playing volleyball until her freshman year, Lakota West junior Gabby Blados is already attracting the attention of recruiters from some of the biggest college conferences in the country.
Two summers ago, armed with only three lessons entering freshman volleyball tryouts, Blados was worried she wouldn’t make the team. After watching her play, her future varsity head coach Tracey Kornau described Blados’ game at the time as “something out of a backyard barbeque.”
“I went into tryouts just hoping that I would make the team and possibly just sit the bench all season,” Blados said. “I never thought I would be able to get game time.
“But, come the first game, they threw me out there. My teammates had to push me along, telling me where to go and where to start.”
Even though she had never played volleyball, Blados always thought she might end up playing the sport mainly because the daughter of former Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman Brian Blados, who is 6-foot-5 according NFL.com, knew she was going to be tall.
Now standing at 6-foot-3 and having improved through lessons and by playing for her club team, the Cincy Classics, in the offseason – she is starting to attract the attention of many college programs.
“It was definitely overwhelming when I got my first letter from a school. I never, in a million years, expected offers from D-I schools,” Blados said. “I thought, maybe, I would be a long shot to play D-II or D-III, but I am very thankful for everything that has come to me so far.”According to her mom, Amy Blados, Gabby has already received offers from Buffalo, High Point and Clemson. She has also received interest from various schools from the Big Ten, the Big East and the ACC. Cincinnati, North Carolina, Ohio State and Iowa are among a short list of schools that have shown extra interest in the junior.
“We were not expecting it – at all. We were just hoping that she would make a team and just have fun,” Amy Blados said. “A college scholarship wasn’t something that I thought was realistic, especially this soon.”
Blados is not the only Lakota West volleyball standout in the history of the program to receive the attention of college recruiters despite being inexperienced.
A few years ago, Florida head coach Mary Wise called coach Kornau about a player she saw in a newspaper photo. Wise wanted to know why no one was talking about a player named Amber Gray.
Unlike Blados, Gray did have the experience of playing in junior high and was recognized as one of the top players in the Greater Miami Conference. Gray, however, had a different passion and spent most of her time on the basketball court. She also never played club volleyball, where most recruits are discovered and critiqued.
As Wise enquired about Gray’s availability, the conversation ended once Kornau told the Florida coach that Gray had already committed to play basketball at Tennessee.
Gray would eventually transfer to play basketball at her current school Xavier, after surviving a stroke and brain surgery in the summer of 2009. Like Blados, Gray’s father, Carlton Gray, also played in the NFL.
But, despite his athletic genes, Blados’ father admitted he had little to do his daughter’s development on the volleyball court.
“Gabby did really well and had an interest in gymnastics. As she got taller, the evolution was going to go to this sport and she took to it pretty quickly. As far as my influence on that, no, I let her do whatever she wants,” Brian Blados said.
“It is just like doing homework for her. I haven’t touched her homework since sixth grade. She has passed me from sixth grade on. She has been a better athlete and smarter kid than I ever thought of being.”