For Greenbrier East Spartan senior Chylyn Pate, the question was never a matter of “if” or “when” she would play volleyball in college, but “where” she would play.
In early January, Pate made that tough decision and signed her letter of intent to continue her career for the Wheeling University Cardinals, a perennial powerhouse at the Division-II level.
Head Coach Christy Benner will be Pate’s future leader and Benner has had a stellar career. She is in her 19th season and has 600 victories and a 2015 national title under her belt. The Cardinals have 13 consecutive 30-plus win seasons and Benner is the fifth winningest coach among active and retired coaches in Division-II history. Wheeling is a fixture in the NCAA tourney and is a sure bet to make it again this spring 2021 season.
Pate was also busy setting records of her own for the green and gold this past fall.
She was a four-year varsity starter and the WV player of the year and also captain of the first-team all-state selections. Pate is also second in the nation in all-time aces. In her Spartan career, Pate surpassed 1,000 digs, 2,000 assists and 800 aces.
Taking those stats to Wheeling became an easy decision once she saw the campus and learned about their powerhouse volleyball team.
“When I first went to visit and walked into Coach Christy’s office, it felt right. She was so easy to talk to and the one goal in her mind is to, win which is my main goal. and I want to go to a school with a great program. She has an amazing program and has had one for years. She is a very feisty and upbeat person that will push me to be the best I can be for the next four years. Out of all the other schools there was no comparison to her as a coach and her program,” Pate said.
Pate did have other schools in mind and strongly considered Shepherd University because of their coach, but the home feeling of Wheeling won out in the end.
“I visited a few other schools such as, West Liberty, Marshall, West Virginia Wesleyan, Shepherd, University of Charleston and Mars Hill. My second choice was going to be Shepherd because of coach Hoekstra. He has only been there for a few years but has started a really good program. I just felt more at home at Wheeling,” Pate explained.
Benner really wanted to land the Spartan star and after taking a couple visits to campus, Pate and her parents really connected to her in a multitude of ways.
“Coach Christy was so nice throughout the whole recruiting process and helped us out in every way possible. The first visit I took with her was just my dad and I. He absolutely loved her because of her drive, passion to win and her love for the Dallas Cowboys,” Pate said with a smile.
“When it was time to decide, I wanted my mom to meet her so we went a second time and we knew that was the place. She [Coach Benner] was so excited the day I texted her that I had made my decision. The way she responded and her reaction is when I knew I had made the right choice,” Pate said.
Always willing to improve, Pate has already set her goals for the next level.
“Obviously win, but also become an even better player,” Pate said when posed the goals question.
“I want to push myself to be the best I can be. Whether I will be a setter or D/S when I get there, I want to succeed,” she concluded.
With dreams of becoming a physical therapist, Pate plans to major in exercise physiology with a minor in psychology.
Pate is the daughter of Billy and Dee Pate.