James Wood's Putt signs to play volleyball with St. Francis

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After finding out she had torn her left anterior cruciate ligament, meniscus and medial collateral ligament as a result of an incident from a travel team practice in October, James Wood volleyball player Lainie Putt wondered if that terrible news was going to lead to an even worse situation.

The 5-foot-10 senior opposite was going to have to tell St. Francis College volleyball coach Amable Martinez about her injury, which typically takes the better part of a year to fully recover from. Putt made a verbal commitment to play volleyball for St. Francis on July 14, and she was going to receive a scholarship to go to the school located in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.

“I was super nervous to call him because I thought I might get my scholarship taken away,” said Putt in a phone interview on Tuesday.

Instead, the phone call just made her feel even better about the place she chose to continue her education and athletic career.

“The night I called him, he was everything you can imagine,” Putt said. “He was still welcoming. It’s great to know I have a second home up there.

“He’s been so supportive, as well as the whole coaching staff. It made me realize that I really did pick the right place to go to school. It’s great to know he’s there for me, especially when I get up there, but also right now during this process.”

Putt signed her National Letter of Intent to play for the NCAA Division I school that plays in the Northeast Conference at her home on Friday. Putt will receive a 50 percent merit scholarship based on her academic performance her freshman year and a full athletic scholarship her last three years.

In his first year with the Terriers in 2019, Martinez guided the Terriers to a 14-17 (7-9 NEC) record, the program’s most wins since 1999. St. Francis did not play this fall because of COVID-19.

As a junior, Putt was a Region 4C Second Team and Class 4 Northwestern District First Team selection who ranked fourth in the area with 191 kills and eighth with 37 blocks.

During the spring of her junior year, St. Francis was one of the schools that Putt reached out to about playing in college. Martinez liked the video clips she sent him and that started the recruiting process.

About two weeks before her July commitment, Putt took a trip to St. Francis.

“I knew I wanted a big city atmosphere, and it was exactly what I was looking for in a school,” Putt said. “Brooklyn is amazing. I’m so excited to spend my next four years there.”

Putt will study psychology at St. Francis. Putt said St. Francis has a program that allows students to get both their bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years, but she might be able to get them both in four because of the number of college credits she’ll already have once she enters school.

Putt already felt great about playing for Martinez before calling him with her injury news.

“He’s probably one of the biggest reasons that I went there,” said Putt, who also considered Rider, Iona and Shippensburg.

Putt suffered her injury (the MCL tear is partial) on Oct. 5 when she had a bad landing after jumping during a practice with her Paramount Volleyball Club in Herndon.

Putt has already had surgery and is rehabbing with PRO Motion in Winchester. Putt has been working with PRO Motion — which offers sports performance training in addition to physical therapy — for three years.

“They’ve always been a family to me there,” Putt said. “They’re super supportive, and they’re going to help me get back on the court.

“Obviously it’s a bummer to miss my senior season [with James Wood, which is scheduled to begin play in February] and travel, but it’s definitely a relief to be committed right now. I’m just looking forward to what’s going to happen at St. Francis.”

In general, Putt said it means a great deal to be playing in college.

“I’m super blessed and super grateful for the opportunity,” Putt said. “It’s an absolute dream. When you’re little, you dream about this kind of stuff. You never really think it’s going to happen.

“I worked hard, and I’ve had a lot of support from my coaches and parents and family. I wouldn’t be where I am today without any of them. It’s just an honor to play at the next level, especially at the Division I level.”

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at
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