By Nathan Pace
Going to parties is not something Center Grove graduate Ali Line has had time to do while in college. She is busy leading a Division I volleyball team while also learning about nursing.
“It’s pretty intense,” Line said. “But I knew that coming in, and it was really important to me in the recruiting process. It was one of the reasons why I chose Illinois State. Because of the opportunity to do both volleyball and nursing.”
Line is a senior and has enjoyed as much success in the classroom as on the court. Nursing is a demanding major for athletes who have time tied up in practice and games. It’s not an excuse for Line as she enjoys her clinicals.
“I feel like I’ve grown up so much in such a short amount of time,” she said. “On clinical days I get up at 5 a.m. I have to travel for over an hour for clinical and then I’ll be in the hospital all day and return to campus and in the evening to go to practice.”
Her time management and work ethic developed while at Center Grove, where she played basketball, volleyball and softball. She played for longtime volleyball coach Deb McClurg as a freshman and Center Grove alumna Dana Daprile her final three years.
“She just prepared me for college volleyball so well,” Line said of Daprile. “She pushed us and challenged us in ways I haven’t been in my athletic career. She really pushed my leadership and helped me grow in that way too which I’m really appreciative of.”
On the basketball court she had success under coach Shawn Sanders as the Trojans won the Johnson County tournament all four years and finally pushed through sectionals as a senior. Line follows her Center Grove teammates closely as she has had quite a few who went on to play in college in the likes of Madison Smeathers (Ohio State), Taylor Hammill (Middle Tennessee State) and Regan Wentland (Indiana State).
Line got engaged in June to her high school sweetheart, Matt O’Brian; he moved to New York City for a job after college. While the couple will live in New York, Line won’t rule out a return to Indy.
“Long term I want to live in Indianapolis, that’s where my family is from, and I love the Southside,” she said.
Line received a scholarship for Redbird seniors that rarely go to athletes. The Robert G. Bone Scholarship is the highest honor an undergraduate at Illinois State can receive. Her application included her work as a volleyball player, nursing student and community service to go along with her 4.0 GPA.
“It was a cool way to wrap up everything I have done at Illinois State into one thing; to win the award was really awesome,” Line said.
She has been named to the Missouri Valley Conference Scholar Athlete first team twice. Her goal is to make the all-conference team and help get the Redbirds into the NCAA tournament this fall. Still, academics take top priority.
“We are here to get an education,” she said. “I am here to get my nursing degree, and volleyball is just a plus. That’s something I take to heart and try to remind myself when it gets hard. School is definitely my No. 1 priority.”