BY: SYDNEY KOON
(Gainesville, Ga.) – Carlee Praznik has spent all of her teenage life playing the sport she loves, volleyball. With the support of her father and mother, Dan and Linda, sister, Casey, and twin brother, Dan Jr., she has played volleyball for six years. Casey Praznik, 24, played volleyball throughout her middle school and high school years. After watching her sister play for so long, Carlee found a love for the game at the age of 12.
Carlee Praznik’s first volleyball camp was with Michael Carter. She played at the club Carter directed, ProLink Atlanta Volleyball Club, for six years. Over the years in ProLink, Carlee sharpened her volleyball skills in hopes to play in college.
“I’ve had the opportunity to see her improve her game and turn herself into a very good volleyball player,” said Carter.
Carlee currently attends North Forsyth High School in her senior year. She proved she had enough skill to make the varsity volleyball team all four years of high school. Over her high school career, Carlee received outstanding awards. She held a spot on the Cumming County team for the entirety of her high school career. In 2011, she received the Best Defense award. The Coaches Award was given to her in 2012 by Joy Stewart, head coach at North Forsyth. Her junior and senior year, she was voted the team’s MVP. Carlee thrived her senior year as the captain of the team and by receiving a spot on the first All-Area team and ranking second in digs in the region. In the process of receiving all of these awards, she knew she was good enough to play in college.
“When I started looking at schools I really wanted to be as far away from home as possible. My first college camp visit was to Catawba and I also went to a West Florida summer camp this summer,” said Carlee.
While visiting other schools, Carlee soon realized she did not want to be far away from her family. She looked at several schools and was contacting often with the coaches.
“She thought she was getting close to getting offers from two other schools and at the last minute they said that they were done recruiting for her age group,” Casey Praznik, Carlee’s sister, reported.
The confidence Carlee had built up in high school was shot down when she had no colleges to turn to.
After all of Carlee’s plans to continue playing in college were expelled, she sat down with her mother and sister to try to figure out where she could go.
“We made a list of all the schools that were in Georgia or close by that she would want to go to that she had not already contacted,” said Casey.
Brenau University made the list.
“Originally Brenau was not on my list until Coach Mike started there last year,” said Carlee.
Once they realized Brenau was a possibility, Carlee reached out to Head Coach Michael Carter.
When Carter received word from Carlee about her considering the school, he was thrilled.
“In addition to simple volleyball skill, there are a number of other attributes that I look for when considering players for Brenau Volleyball. I like players with high character and a great work ethic. I also look for players who will excel both in the classroom and in the Brenau community in general. I believe that these qualities add to the overall culture that we are trying to build and that they add to the team chemistry as we compete at higher and higher levels. Having known Carlee for many years, I believe that she will be a perfect fit for the Golden Tigers in every way,” said Carter.
Carter offered Carlee a spot on the team in December of 2014.
“When the opportunity came to go to Brenau, she wasn’t sure if that’s what she really wanted to do but the more that we thought about it, the more it made sense. It’s close to home, has the major that she wants to study, and she would get the opportunity to play the sport that she loves,” said Casey.
“I didn’t want to go to a huge school, so Brenau was a good size school, and it’s perfect distance from my house where my family and friends can come watch. Everyone I had talked to said nothing but good things about the school and it just made me feel even more welcome,” said Carlee.
Carlee knew that the coach would not be a problem. However, she had never been on campus.
“When I went to go visit the campus and meet the team is when I knew it would be the right decision. The team was welcoming and since I already knew Coach Mike, it made things a lot more comfortable,” said Carlee.
She knew most of the team previous to her visit due to the Brenau girls coaching at ProLink as well. After her visit to Brenau University, everything fell into place for Carlee Praznik.
Carlee accepted Carter’s offer to play at Brenau University in January.
“When she decided to join the team and attend the University, I was extremely excited. She definitely has the skill and the athletic ability to make an immediate impact on our team. The future looks bright for Brenau volleyball,” said Carter.
“I am extremely proud of her for her hard work and cannot wait to go watch her play college volleyball. I know she is really excited and can’t wait to start. After really thinking about the school, I think Brenau will be a good fit for Carlee and also give her a great education,” said sister, Casey.
Carlee Praznik will be attending Brenau University this coming fall. The Golden Tiger’s previous libero will be graduating, leaving a perfect spot for Carlee. She plans to study Marketing at the university.
“I am very excited about playing and attending at Brenau. I think this will be a great opportunity for me. The academics are just what I need and the volleyball couldn’t get much better. I wish that I was starting right now,” said Carlee.