Throughout elementary school, now-sophomore Sarah Bingham was always six inches to a foot taller than the other kids. When they played basketball in gym class, she was always the first round pick. During gym class everyone wanted her on their her on their basketball team. From the number one recruit in elementary basketball up until eighth grade, Bingham wanted to take advantage of her height and play Division 1 basketball.
Although, as a six-foot tall sixth grader, it didn’t take Bingham long to learn her height allowed her to excel in most sports, especially for spiking the ball in volleyball.
After joining the club team KC Power at the age of 10, Bingham felt the intense energy yelling “Let’s go” across the gym and knew she wanted to compete at the collegiate level against the best volleyball players in the country.
Starting eighth grade, Bingham followed the college recruitment process and on Nov. 27, 2018 she verbally committed to play women’s volleyball at The University of Illinois, the number three school in college volleyball.
Bingham began her search for a collegiate volleyball program in eighth grade when colleges began reaching out to her via email and letters. By sophomore year, and after 25 campus visits, Bingham narrowed her search down to two high level programs – Duke and Illinois.
Bingham said her final decision came down to a school that prioritized academics but also had a supportive volleyball fanbase.
“There are a lot of places where nobody comes to the [volleyball] games and it’s not very hyped up,” Bingham said. “But at Illinois most of their games are sold out and the gym is packed and really loud.”
East’s Head Volleyball Coach Nicole Dalton thinks Illinois recruited Bingham not only for her skill, but her positive attitude both on and off the court.
Bingham spent a lot of time watching college volleyball on TV and noticed the strength all of the players had. With this in mind, she knew to play at the college level she’d need change her training schedule by spending more time both running drills on court and in the weight room.
After spending over nine hours training every week, varsity volleyball captain Mallory Frank was able to see her dedication to the sport which will help Bingham fit in perfectly at Illinois.
“She’s always the first person at practice, ready to go,” Frank said. “She always took warmups and everything really seriously and I think that’ll be really good at the college level.”
While Bingham never loses focus throughout practice and games, she always is energetic while playing alongside her supportive teammates.
“The natural high you get when you go to a really fun party or a concert I get every time I’m competing on the volleyball court,” Bingham said. “Nothing can match that excitement.”