Volleyball bound them together. Both were four-year stars for the Falcons. They were pursued by college programs — big, small, successful and not successful.
The goal was to find college programs they could flourish in. They did.
Steele selected Hutchinson Community College, a program that qualified for the Division I National Junior College Tournament. Reed picked Cowley County Community College, which won the Division II National Junior College championship.
“I could not ask for them to go to a better situation,” West Franklin volleyball coach Angie Corwine said. “Both coaches are fantastic. I am glad they are going to successful programs. It makes the transition easier.”
The two made it official with their signing Friday afternoon in the packed high school library.
Both came to their decisions in different ways. Reed played with this past year’s Cowley freshmen at the Pittsburg State camp.
“I love playing with the girls,” Reed said. “It was nice to do that. I knew I wanted to go to a good program. They were the only campus I went to visit. I knew right when I got on campus I wanted to go there.”
“Hutch felt the most at home,” Steele said. “I connected with a lot of the girls. One of my friends from Ottawa [Paige Weidner] goes to Hutch and she told me a lot good things about it.
“During my tryout they gave me a lot of good tips. Things I could take with me wherever I went.”
Reed said Hutch is lucky to have a player and person like Steele.
Corwine said, “It was stressful. Emily got lucky that she knew earlier on where her path would take her. McKenzie’s took a little longer. I am sure they are relieved.”
Reed is expected to play a setter’s role for Cowley, while McKenzie will be a defensive specialist at the beginning and her role may expand to a hitter spot.
“They are very determined,” Corwine said. “That will be one of their strong points going into college. Now they get to play with others just like them. That will raise their game even more.”
The trio said it was nice how they shared their signing day.
“It is really nice to have it together,” Reed said. “It is sad we are both leaving. We got to end it together. We are both going to really good programs. I am happy for [McKenzie].”
Steele said, “I am proud of [Reed]. She is so easy to play with. She is the best mental player I have ever met. She knows everything about the game. I love playing with her. You can put her anywhere and you know she will do well.”
Corwine said it was fitting that they signed together.
“They have grown up together,” she said. “It is nice to end it together on the same day.”
An interesting part will be when the two play each other.
“That is going to be rough,” Reed said. “We are both competitive.”
McKenzie said, “It is tough knowing we won’t be able to play together again.”