Penn State women’s volleyball commit Jocelyn Nathan, a 5-foot-6 libero/defensive specialist from Wilmington, Delaware, is about to begin her senior season for Wilmington Friends School, where she was named first-team all-state last fall.
Nathan verbally committed to the Nittany Lions earlier this summer on July 22, becoming the second member of Penn State’s 2023 recruiting class at the time. Wilmette, Illinois, middle blocker Catherine Burke has since joined Nathan and pin hitter Karis Willow in next year’s incoming freshman class. Burke committed to Penn State on August 25, while Willow has been committed since September 9, 2021.
Nathan plays her club volleyball for East Coast Power and will join a defensive specialist group next season that already features Maddy Bilinovic, Gillian Grimes, Cassie Kuerschen, Quinn Menger, and Mandi Morioka, all of whom have multiple years of eligibility remaining. Nathan is the first player from Delaware to commit to Penn State in quite some time.
Nathan and 2024 libero Ava Falduto of Elmhurst, Illinois, both committed to the Nittany Lions following Katie Schumacher-Cawley’s hiring as the third head coach in program history in January. Schumacher-Cawley took over for legendary, seven-time national championship-winning coach Russ Rose, who led the program to the top of the sport during his 43-year career at Penn State and coached Schumacher-Cawley’s 1999 team to its first NCAA title.
Nathan recently took the time to answer a few questions about her commitment to Penn State, her soccer background, and what her relationship is like with her fellow 2023 and 2024 commits, among other topics, in an exclusive interview with DigNittanyVolleyball. The full transcript can be found below.
What were the main factors in your decision to commit to Penn State?
“Coming from a small school where I’ve known every other classmate since birth, basically, Penn State is a much-needed, yet huge fresh start, regardless of the volleyball. With the volleyball, however, I knew playing time would never be guaranteed, and I love that. I know I will be pushed day in and day out, on and off the court, and that is the environment I want. Aside from that, meeting the team and getting along with them so quickly was also one of the main factors in my choice.”
What do you like most about campus and the facilities?
“I like that I could get lost. That sounds stupid, but the campus is just so huge that in all the years I will be at Penn State, I will probably not have seen everything by the end of it. The campus itself is so beautiful and so green, I can’t pick just one place yet, other than the gym, of course.”
What’s your relationship like with Penn State’s coaching staff? When did they first reach out to you?
“I have been talking to Brian [Toron] for about three to four months now, and he’s the best. He, Katie, Dan [Gwitt], and every other person on the Penn State staff have been nothing but supportive and inspiring throughout my whole process and beyond that.”
Did you make it to the 7 Star Camp at Penn State this summer? Are you planning to attend any matches at Rec Hall this season? Are there any Penn State volleyball players you enjoyed watching growing up?
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend the 7 Star Camp this year, but I have heard nothing but good things, and I cannot wait to play with some of the girls who did get to attend the camp. I’m planning on attending the Michigan State match, and Karis and I are trying to make it to the Ohio State match. I’ve always enjoyed watching Jonni Parker, and Jenna Hampton was always really fun to watch. She was super underrated, in my opinion, and one of the hardest workers.”
How were you introduced to volleyball? Who have been your biggest mentors and inspirations in the sport?
“I began playing volleyball when I was 7 years old. Both of my sisters played, so it was only natural that I began as well. I started out at Brandywine Volleyball Club and transferred over to East Coast Power KOP my 15’s year. Morgan Hentz, Jena Otec, and Tiffany Clark are all liberos I have always looked up to — not just due to their skill level, but their unwillingness to let the ball drop without them dropping as well is something I have always tried to work into my game.”
What’s your relationship like with fellow Penn State commits Karis Willow, Catherine Burke, Ava Falduto, and Izzy Starck?
“I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Ava, Catherine, or Izzy yet, but have heard nothing but stud-like things about them all. As for Karis, we have a very good relationship, I would say. She’s a beast with endless stories, and I can’t wait for four whole years with her.”
What are some of the strengths of your game? What would you like to improve before arriving at Penn State?
“I would say some strengths in my game are my hustle, my resiliency, and my attitude. You will likely never see me without a smile on my face. I love picking people up when they’re down. If I make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. I’m a listener and a very coachable player. Before arriving at Penn State, there are many things I would like to work on — balance, control, consistency.”
How has your soccer background and being a multi-sport athlete helped you as a volleyball player?
“I would say playing soccer for as many years as I did definitely helped me with speed and reading the play as a volleyball player. Going from slow to sprint, finding that explosivity has definitely helped me on the court, as well as made me much less hesitant.”
What’s it like being a leader for your high school team? What are some of your goals for your senior season and final club campaign this spring?
“For both club and high school, being a leader isn’t about how skilled you are, or even about having the C next to your name on the lineup. For me, it’s about making sure that you show up every day, give all the sweat in your body to the floor, give your vocal cords to the walls because you’re cheering so much, and give endless support no matter how bad or well your day is going. My goal for my fifth and final high school season is to keep everyone smiling, make sure everyone is always giving 100 percent, and for me personally, go for player of the year and Gatorade player of the year. For club, I want to win. I want to have fun with my team for my last year, hit the gym even after the season is over, and win.”
What do you love most about playing volleyball?
“Volleyball is just a fun sport. My position may not be the one racking up points, but knowing that I may have a part in my teammate getting a huge kill is the best feeling. I love the scrap, I love the sportsmanship, and I love the challenge. The feeling of stepping on the court, or hitting the floor, or even just being on the sideline cheering on your family is a 10/10 feeling in itself, and, in my opinion, everyone should play volleyball.”