Photos by CatchMark
Navea Gauthier has achieved some extraordinary things in her first two volleyball seasons at Shelby High School, including being twice selected as a Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association Division 3 first-team all-stater.
It only keeps getting better for the 6-foot-2 outside hitter, who continues working and striving for her lofty goals.
On Tuesday, the rising junior announced her commitment to play Division I volleyball for Ohio State University.
No time to rest on any laurels, however, for the daughter of Becky and Brent Gauthier. Wednesday morning, she and her mother boarded a plane for Florida, where Navea was headed to train with USA Volleyball.
Despite being only 16 years old, Gauthier is extremely focused and driven.
“My goals at OSU are to win a natty and a Big Ten Conference title,” she said. “Also, after playing at OSU, I want to continue my career and play pro as long as I am healthy and still in love with the sport.
“The (OSU) volleyball program is extremely competitive, so I know every day that I walk into the gym, I will be fighting for my spot,” Gauthier added. “Also, they are in the most competitive conference in the country.”
Six Big Ten teams were ranked in the final 2022 American Volleyball Coaches Association national poll, five of them in the top 11. In 2021, Wisconsin defeated Nebraska in the national championship match.
Ohio State was No. 8 in the final AVCA national rankings of the 2022 season. The Buckeyes tied for third in the Big Ten standings and finished with a 22-10 overall record after a loss to eventual national champ Texas in an NCAA regional final.
Gauthier said she also received Division I scholarship offers from Syracuse, Michigan State, and Western Michigan.
During her recruitment, she’s received attention from several other big-time D-I programs. Gauthier said she had an official visit set with MSU, but since she’s committed to OSU, she will not be taking that. She’ll be taking an official visit to Ohio State sometime this year.
Gauthier said she is relieved to have made her college decision and to know where she’ll be spending the next four years upon her high school graduation in 2025.
“It was hard to say ‘no’ to another school that really wanted me, but Ohio State was my calling,” Gauthier said, leaving no doubt that the Buckeyes had won her over.
“When I first went to camp at Ohio State, I fell in love with everything about it: Coaches, players, facilities, and the culture,” she said. “I knew deep down I always wanted to go there, but I wanted to explore other options before making my final decision.”
Around that decision, Gauthier has stayed plenty busy this summer. She plays for the FaROut 18 black squad as well as with the USA Volleyball National Team Development Program U17 squad. Additionally, she trains with Tay Lewis at the SportHouse Athletic Center in Norton Shores. Currently, she and her mother are in Florida for USA Volleyball NTDP training.
Gauthier said the highlight of her summer has been committing to OSU, but also getting the chance to work out in the sports class at SportHouse and hanging out with her friends.
A 3.6 student, Gauthier would like to study either sports psychology or exercise science at OSU.
“Navea is a true student of the game. She has had exposure to the game in many different facets when you include high school, club, and USA feeder programs/clinics,” Shelby volleyball coach Tom Weirich said.
“All of this exposure has given her a great perspective of what she wants out of volleyball. Navea is ultra-organized and has been following the programs that she was interested in meticulously.”
Photos by CatchMark
Gauthier has been a dominating presence for Shelby’s volleyball team the past two seasons.
In 2022, she amassed an eye-popping 987 kills, 518 digs, 136 aces, 59 blocks, and 16 assists.
“As good as Navea has been for us historically, she will come back again this year our most improved player,” Weirich said. “Her goal at the college level is to be a six-rotation player. We will put her in as many situations as we can to help her achieve that goal.
“Offensively, she has proven to be one of the best in the state. The defensive side of the ball and serve-receive will be a major focus for her this year.”
At Ohio State, Gauthier anticipates playing a pin-attacker position, hitting on the outside or right side.
Weirich is a Michigan fan, but he gives credit where it’s due. He said Ohio State has a great program and brand-new volleyball facility. He believes that the Buckeyes’ coaching staff and current group of players made for a “pretty inviting environment” for Gauthier.
“Ultimately, I think Navea would’ve been a good fit for any program,” Weirich said. “Given her skill set and ability, she had to make sure that they were a good fit for her. Playing in the Big Ten Conference is kind of the gold standard in volleyball. Navea has certainly put in the time and work to play at that level.”
Shelby’s volleyball team enjoyed a great season in 2022, finishing with a 34-9-2 record. The Tigers captured the West Michigan Conference Rivers Division title as well as Division 3 district and regional championships before dropping a tough five-setter to Kalamazoo Christian in the state quarterfinals.
The 2023 Shelby squad has been training very hard this summer. Led by Gauthier, the Tigers have high hopes again in the upcoming season.
“I’m super excited for the upcoming season,” Gauthier said. “I think we will be very competitive and a team that you don’t want to see until late in the tournament.
“My goals for the season (are) first-team all-state, winning a state title and conference title, and then continuing to build a great culture for Shelby volleyball and Shelby sports.”
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