Riverton's Shime commits to Wyoming CowgirlsOct 1, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
Naya Shime has always wanted to be a Cowgirl.
Now, she'll get her dream opportunity, as the Riverton sophomore volleyball star has verbally committed to the University of Wyoming following a visit to the school's campus in Laramie on Tuesday.
"It makes me feel pretty awesome," said Shime. "I worked really hard this summer."
According to Riverton head coach Trista Day, the Cowgirls had eyes on Shime as early as last season, when she burst onto the scene as a freshman, helping lead the Lady Wolverines to a third-place finish at the Class 3-A state tournament in Casper.
"Wyoming first noticed her at state last year and contacted us," said Day. "But, at the time, we thought it was better to just leave her alone and let her be."
However, the Cowgirls kept watching Shime's exploits and once again reached out after scouting her at the Casper Invitational on Sept. 22-23 of this season.
So, the campus visit was set up and Shime was sold.
"I always had Wyoming on my list," said Shime. "I want to make our state better."
Making the decision to don the Brown-and-Gold so early on removes having to make one later on in her high-school career, which Shime believes will allow her to blossom even more as a player over the next two seasons, she said.
"It takes the pressure off and will let me play to the best of my ability," said Shime. "Now, all I have to do is not put too much pressure on myself."
Shime began playing volleyball in fourth grade while in the Wind River school system before moving to Riverton in middle school.
Day said Shime's combination of natural ability and humility has been critical to her success so far at the high-school level.
"Naya's just a natural athlete," she said. "But, it's more than that -- it's her presence on the court. She always has a smile on her face."
Of course, one of the things which makes her and her teammates smile most is when she rises up and hammers home another winner for the Wolverines.
"I really like killing the ball," said Shime. "It gives me a burst of energy."
Despite the talent and passion Shime brings to the court, Day knows there is still much work to be done on this starlet-in-the-making.
"Naya's had to work very hard to be able to shine at the varsity level," said Day. "When you get to this level, pure athleticism isn't enough, anymore."
For Shime, she understands the spotlight will be on her now more than ever, even if she would just as soon avoid it, said Day.
"Naya's a humble girl," she said. "She doesn't want to be the star of the show."
Shime has expressed an interest in pursuing dentistry as a career once she reaches college, but before she begins studying to drill teeth, she'll continue to drill volleyballs beyond the reach of hapless defenders under the care and guidance of Day.
"We wanted to make sure it wasn't too much, too soon," said Day, of Shime's rapid rise to prominence. "But, I don't worry about overconfidence with Naya because she understands she still has a big job ahead of her."
Shime already has a 27-inch vertical leap, which not only serves her well in volleyball, but also on the basketball court and track, where she also excels.
But, more strength will be needed, as well constant reinforcement, said Day.
"We need to build a little more muscle," she said. "Also, we continue to place expectations on her, knowing she has the mentality to push herself."
Surprisingly enough, when Shime arrived as a freshman last season, Day needed to push buttons to get the most from her new smasher, she said.
"Initially, Naya was very timid," said Day. "But, I pushed her, knowing she had so much ability in her."
Even so, Day admitted Shime has come further even sooner than she expected.
"Naya's come to fruition faster than I thought," said Day. "We're very blessed to have her."