Farmington's Georgia Willie signs with Haskell

Karl Schneider
Georgia Willie signed a letter of intent to play volleyball for Haskell Indian Nations University on Tuesday at Farmington High.

FARMINGTON — Georgia Willie is ready to make an impact at the college level after the Farmington High senior signed a letter of intent to play volleyball for Haskell Indian Nations University on Tuesday.

Willie didn’t need much time to grab the attention of Haskell head coach Nana Allison-Brewer when the two met at Farmington’s volleyball camp last summer.

"Last summer, I worked with her at the FHS volleyball camp where immediately I was impressed by her tremendous athleticism — excellent vertical (jump) and agility," Allison-Brewer said in an email. "I am also excited about her versatility because she has the ability to play as a middle hitter, which is a tough and demanding position at the collegiate level, but she can also play any other position because of her natural athleticism."

Allison-Brewer is entering her sixth season at Haskell, a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics located in Lawrence, Kan. Allison-Brewer is a 1995 graduate of Farmington High and went on to play volleyball at the University of New Mexico, where she won the Western Athletic Conference’s Defensive Specialist of the Year award in 1998.

Haskell finished the 2015 season 3-24.

Willie said her encounter with Allison-Brewer — who is Navajo — at the FHS camp last summer left a major impression and played a key role in her choosing Haskell.

"Growing up, I looked up to Navajo volleyball players, and she told me last summer about making a change to be a role model," said Willie, who is also Navajo. "That helped inspire me to make the choice of going to Haskell — and it being a Native American college."

Willie transferred from Kirtland Central to Farmington during her sophomore season. After sitting out one year per transfer rules, she joined the Lady Scorps for the second half of the 2014 season.

When she was on the court, Willie had an immediate impact for FHS. During her senior season, she showed the versatility Allison-Brewer is so excited about. With a young roster that often saw Willie joined by a pair of freshman on the front line, she regularly moved between positions at outside and middle hitter.

Farmington's Georgia Willie gets a kill against Piedra Vista on Nov. 7 at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

"She’s been an asset. She was definitely a leader and one of our best players on the outside and in the middle," said former Farmington head coach Dan Hickman, who left the program after the 2015 season. Farmington has since hired Alana Rowland to coach the volleyball team.

Allison-Brewer said she expects Willie to immediately start having an effect on the team this fall.

Hickman agreed, saying the biggest adjustment Willie will have to make is finding her role on the team.

"When you go in as a new person, you try to figure out where you fit in at and who’s who. If she can gather that quickly, I know she’ll have a spot," he said. "I know her skills are there and that she can offer something to the team."

Hickman added that Willie’s willingness to learn will be a major asset to her in going to the college level.

"She’s very coachable and has some things (Allison-Brewer) can bring out of her, and Nana is excited to have that potential in Georgia," Hickman said. "I think the biggest thing about Georgia is that she’s a coach’s dream when it comes to being coached. She’s going to give 110 percent when she’s out there. She did that for me, and she’ll do that for coach Nana for sure."

Willie said she plans to major in architectural engineering.

She also plans on taking her experiences from Farmington — particularly matches against rival Piedra Vista — with her to Haskell.

"I really liked the rivalry with PV. I’ve always liked playing in front of a big crowd, getting a point and everybody going crazy. It was always exciting," Willie said. "Coming from a small town, I’m ready to go big."

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.