Patchen signs with University of Texas at Tyler
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

May 25, 2005 - Christina Patchen found a place that suited her athletically and academically when she signed a letter of commitment recently to play volleyball for the University of Texas at Tyler.

Patchen, who is ranked No. 4 in her graduating class at Sulphur Springs High School, became the 15th Wildcat or Lady Cat to commit to play an intercollegiate sport. This is the second consecutive year 15 SSHS grads have made that commitment.

A First Team All-District volleyball player for the Lady Cats, Patchen picked UT-Tyler because of its academic reputation as well as the opportunity to compete intercollegiately in the NCAA Division III conference.

"I'm also pleased with how they treat academics," said Patchen, who also lettered her senior year in basketball and softball. "They're D-III, so their main focus is academics, not just sports."

While at UT-Tyler, she will major in physical therapy. She got the idea after being treated herself for various injuries during her high school career.

Head coach John McCullough, who has had two volleyball players and three softball players sign letters this year, said UT-Tyler appears to be a good fit for Patchen.

"I'm very pleased for her. The main thing is the academics they have there," McCullough explained. "Christina's No. 4 in her class right now, and being able to go and continue to play volleyball at the collegiate level and get academics is a great opportunity for her.

"For her to get into physical therapy is outstanding there because you have three great hospitals in the Tyler area, so you can work with them. UT-Tyler is a great academic institution, and I'm glad she's going to be able to go there and be able to contribute athletically, too."

She started playing volleyball in middle school when her big sister, Becky, was playing it in high school.

"Becky really got me into it," Christina said. "When she played, I wanted to be like her.

"It's an up-and-down sport. It's a major team sport - you can't do anything just by yourself. You have to work together. You're either on or you're not. I love the game."

Her senior season, she totaled 182 digs, 52 kills and had 78.3 percent passing accuracy and 25 percent hitting for the Lady Cats, who finished as district runners-up and advanced to the playoffs for the first time in three years. They finished 16-14 overall.

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