Jahner signs with Dickinson State to play volleyball, softball

Mar. 9—DICKINSON — It's rare for any student athlete to earn a college scholarship — as most never rise to the heights that would warrant a promotion to the next level — but it's even rarer-still for a prep star to earn such advancement in two different sports. Trinity High School senior Ava Jahner is just that person the Dickinson State Blue Hawks were looking for and they secured her signing recently in a ceremony hosted at THS, which drew not only Jahner's proud parents, Tesha and Jeremy, but also DSU softball coaches Kristin Fleury and Danielle Benito with head volleyball coach Stormy Siemion, Dickinson High School softball coaches Amanda Mickey and Scott LaFond, along with Trinity head volleyball coach Breanna Sisson and others.

"I knew that I wanted to play softball, and then with the coach switch (in volleyball with Siemion) I decided I wasn't ready to be done with volleyball yet," Jahner said. "So I decided to go talk to her and sat down and had a conversation with her and thought it would be the best fit to do both of them."

The ceremony and accolades are indicative of all the people who have had such a profound impact on not only her sporting life, but her growth as an individual, student and citizen, and that list is quite long. From her parents' support and contributions and the coaching she received from her older sisters Madi and Bailey — Madi being a three-sport star at Trinity herself and later a college softball player at UMary with Bailey being a prep athlete, herself — to the aforementioned high-school coaches and others who helped encourage her in sports all her life, Jahner said she simply couldn't have accomplished so much without the help and hopes of so many people in Dickinson.

"Our community supports us so much, because we have so many gyms and fields around town that anytime you need someplace to go practice there are countless opportunities for us," Jahner said. "My family is all super-close and the farthest person away is Bismarck; all my family is close-by and I've always had that strong support system throughout high school."

She added, "And even those people in the community that maybe aren't my family — but still come and support me — they'll still be able to watch for years to come."

But with her pleasant disposition and pinpoint focus, joining DSU's athletic programs also means the 4.0 student will be able to excel close to home and continue to grow not only as a student but as a member of a community she holds dear, while giving people who have watched her progress — from when she was 3 years old and starting to attend softball camps with her older sisters — the chance to continue supporting her careers on the court and the field. That built-in fan-base also helps promote the university with abundant local talent as Trinity basketball star Jake Shobe, football senior athlete of the year Ty Dassinger, and gridiron/classroom standout Jeremiah Jilek all will join their classmate as they head around the corner to play in the various Blue Hawk programs.

"I think being at a smaller college is nice, because it's more of a family aspect like I'm used to here at Trinity," Jahner said. "So, that's going to be good coming in, but I'm just excited to have a new set of coaches; I haven't had that in all four years I've played in high school — I've been with the same coaches — so it will be fun."

Jahner added, "I think the way that both of these coaches (Siemion and Fleury) run their programs are very similar to what I'm used to so I think it's going to be a pretty easy spot to fit into."

Siemion has just recently been hired as head volleyball coach and said Jahner was on her radar from the jump. Jahner's skill-set in the sport is widely known and her inimitable tenacity when rising for a kill at the net is just one of her many attributes, along with a defensive presence that is as graceful as it is intimidating.

"I haven't gotten a chance to watch her play live, but I've watched a lot of film on her and she's just super-athletic and everyone speaks so highly of her," Siemion said. "The bit of interaction that I've had with her and talking with her, I just think her mentality is something that I'm excited to have as a part of the program. Then also her skill is going to be a good advantage, too."

With a state-championship in softball under her belt and her final, senior season approaching like the spring leaves, Jahner has an equally impressive resume to tout and although she will be leaving basketball behind for good, it's just another way she has refined her athletic acumen to a razor's-edge of quality. It could be argued that softball is where she shines brightest, on diamonds throughout the state, and Fleury said her decision to join the softball program is a gift to the university.

"I think it's huge when you can get a kid like Ava Jahner; we've had the opportunity to watch her grow since she was 3 years old and walking and watching her older sisters in camps and stuff," Fleury said. "So, it's pretty special, and a kid like her — who's just an all-around athlete and comes from a great family — she's had a lot of success in the high school program, and we're just excited for her and are excited to watch her continue to grow."

While her disciplined work-ethic and court/field intelligence will be missed at the prep level, Sisson knows the sky's the limit for Ms. Jahner (particularly so close to home with her family and friends by her side as supporters): "For us to be able to go to her home-games and be able to experience her college career is going to be a lot of fun, and — as a coach who's seen her on my varsity squad since her eighth-grade year — it's going to be fun to watch her grow through the rest of her athletic career and stay close to home."

Sisson added, "Now that she's stepping into a higher-level of softball and volleyball, we're going to see a lot of different things once she gets to DSU. Just because of the nature of having a different team and coaching staff it's going to be fun to see what decisions her new coaches make for her. But Ava Jahner has been almost a household name, when it comes to athletics in the Dickinson community, so it's so nice she gets to wear Dickinson State colors on her chest and represent our community."

Jahner was named The Dickinson Press's Female Athlete of the Year recently — a decision that was basically a no-brainer — and as she goes into college to study nursing in the fall she has one final goal to achieve at the prep level before the closing of her senior season with the Dickinson Midgets: "I just want another state championship; that would be really nice."

She considers both to be her favorite sports, regardless, and that should be a boon to the university come the 2024-25 school year at DSU."Whatever season I'm in, that's my favorite and it's hard to pick," Jahner said. "I know that two sports in college is going to be a lot, but my whole life I've always been in a sport and went to school. So it will be a lot to deal with, but I've had a lot of practice."

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