Lauren Frye, an Eastern New Mexico University senior pursuing a bachelor's degree in biology, has always had a talent for volleyball. She is the recipient of not just one, but two, "Greatest Greyhound Female Athlete" awards. Lauren holds the awards for 2015 and 2016.
"My junior year, coach [Sia Poyer] texts me and says I got the 'Greatest Greyhound Female Athlete' award, which is such an honor because juniors never get it—it's rare for juniors to get it," said Lauren.
Thinking of all the female athletes who represent ENMU, she thought, "Wow, this is pretty cool. Out of all them, why would they choose me? There are so many teams. I was thinking, dang, they have some really good soccer players. The basketball team took the Lonestar Conference this year. So I'm kind of special, and I should meet with the people that voted for me."
Lauren recalls not expecting the first award, but she "definitely wasn't expecting the second one either." One day, she was scrolling through Instagram and thought it was weird to see herself mentioned for last year's award this year especially when she's done playing and out of season.
"I kept scrolling and coach texts again and says I got it again. I thought, 'Is this real? I didn't know it was okay to get it twice. I'm excited, but did you look at the rest of the athletes, too?' It was shocking," said Lauren.
Lauren's love for sports began in the fifth grade when she dropped all extracurricular activities to play three sports year-round: volleyball, basketball and softball. Her athletic skills, which would later help win her athletic awards, started to show in eighth grade.
Towering at six feet tall, Lauren says she didn't grow until she was a junior in high school. "I was really bad [at volleyball] when I was young. I was really short, but I was strong."
She is from a little town surrounded by plains and farms in Virginia, where eighth graders were given the opportunity to play junior varsity or varsity for the public high school.
"[As an eighth grader], I was asked to play varsity [with my friend Jessica]," she said. "It was really funny because we didn't know what we were doing and we were these little girls on this team. I remember this one game where another team was crushing us, and [coach threw us little girls in the game], and put me in position to serve."
Lauren told herself, "I guess I'm going to put it over net." She served the ball over the net with power and gave a player on the other side a bloody nose causing the game to stop. "What did I just do?" she thought.
"Coach was like, 'It's okay, you did a great job. You did a great job.' Then was like, 'Oh my gosh, is this supposed to be great?' After that, I thought, well maybe, I'm going to be really great."
Lauren's parents transferred her to a smaller private school to have a bigger chance to play sports, especially softball. The volleyball coach noticed her potential during tryouts and placed her on the varsity team.
Lauren and her mom looked at each other "puzzled" because Lauren's sport was softball, not volleyball. The coach told her she was going to be a good volleyball player, regardless of whether "she liked it or not."
She explained that throughout high school, she was on a "[good and strong volleyball] team all four years, and the last two years, we were the first team to win both of our conferences."
Knowing she had to start thinking about college, she had to decide to pursue either play softball or volleyball and start playing sending out videos for recruitment. Having no idea which sport she wanted to do and which school she needed to go to, she started playing on a club volleyball team after her sophomore year.
"On my [first big club team], we played a tournament with coaches everywhere. They were scouting and watching every play and game. It was nerve-wracking, but I had to start playing [and coaches started contacting me]," she said.
"My senior year, coach [Sia Poyer from ENMU] came to a game in Las Vegas and saw me play. He wanted me to be on his team, and I had offers from D1 schools, so he was like 'there's no way she's going to come here because we are a small D2.'"
Lauren and her mom rushed to Portales to visit the University. Afterwards, they went home and talked about the school until they had to make a decision.
"[My mom asked if I prayed about it] and I said, 'I have this intuition that no doubt, I'm supposed to go to this school,'" she explained. Lauren called her coach and told him she was coming to New Mexico, a place she'd never been.
"I don't know what it is about this school, but everyone was so nice and welcoming that I felt comfortable here just for the two short days I was here [for the visit]. This is where I want to go."
Now after four years, Lauren is on track to graduate this December and plans to become an EMT and paramedic. She has a job lined up in a fire department back home in Virginia.
"I definitely miss volleyball, my teammates and playing. That's something I think about every day. I go to practice a little bit to help out coach, and I always ask if he can let me play. I tell people all the time, in a second, I'd go back to freshman year and do it all over again because it was so fun. It will be something I'll cherish and remember for the rest of my life."
Lauren appreciates all of the support from ENMU.
"I thank all of the fans and supporters that I've had throughout my four years here. Representing this school is an honor, and I couldn't have been nearly as successful without them in my corner, as well as my coaches and my amazing teammates who pushed me to be better."