Team Player: Lauren Carlini x’17
On Lauren Carlini x’17’s desk sits a homemade lamp that reminds her of more than home. Under its black shade, its base is a Gatorade bottle filled with red beads.
“My grandma made it for me,” she says. “It means a lot.”
What it means is more than light and more than grandma. Carlini’s picture is on the bottle’s label, along with the photos of other high school athletes: the 2012 Gatorade National Players of the Year in several sports. During her senior year at West Aurora [Illinois] High School, Carlini was chosen the best volleyball player in the country. Now the freshman is one of the stars of new UW coach Kelly Sheffield’s first recruiting class. As a setter/outside hitter, Carlini acts as something of the quarterback of the volleyball team, organizing how the squad will play each volley.
“You’ve got to be vocal, a leader on the court,” she says. “When chaos happens, you’ve got to keep the team calm and lead them.”
Carlini, who’s been playing volleyball since she was five years old, has the game in her genes. Not only is she six-foot-two, but her mother, Gale, played for Appalachian State and then continued playing club volleyball in the Chicago area. Carlini came to the UW to follow in the footsteps of former Badger volleyballer Maria Carlini ’08, though the two aren’t bound by blood.
“I don’t think we’re related at all,” Lauren Carlini says. “But you don’t see the name Carlini all that often. And Madison is close to Aurora. We’d come up to watch her play, and I just fell in love with the campus.”
If she can replicate her high school success, campus will fall in love with her, as well. In addition to the Gatorade honor, Carlini was ranked by PrepVolleyball.com as the number-one recruit, by the American Volleyball Coaches Association as a first-team All-American, and by the Chicago Sun-Times as the Player of the Year.
Published in the Winter 2013 issue