Attending Penn State has always been a dream for Central York’s Royce Clemens.
Getting a chance to play collegiately for one of the nation’s top men’s volleyball outfits is just a little icing on top of the cake.
Clemens will get to live out his dream after verbally committing to Penn State recently to play under legendary coach Mark Pavlik. The Panther senior will be the third member of his family — joining brother, Austin, and sister, Chelsea — to attend school in Happy Valley.
“Penn State has always been my dream school,” said Clemens, who hopes to make his signing official within the next few weeks. “It just helps that they offered me a spot on the team. There were some other D-II schools for volleyball and some D-II and D-III schools for soccer, too. But Penn State was definitely my No. 1 choice.”
A District 3-AAA and PIAA all-star from a year ago as an outside hitter, Clemens will be asked to make an unusual transition when he gets to State College next year. The 6-foot, 2-inch powerhouse will move from offense to defense. He hopes to become the Nittany Lions’ libero.
“I’m not really sure how that came into play, but I know that Coach Pav wanted an athlete to play at the libero position,” Clemens said. “I’m a primary passer for my club team and that’s a big part of being a libero, as well as playing defense. But passing is a really big skill that you need to have and they saw that I could pass pretty well so they thought that I would be a good fit.”
Clemens won’t be rushed into the position, at least initially. The plan is for him to redshirt his freshman year, which will give him a chance to learn under one of the best college liberos in the nation in junior Connor Curry.
Clemens won’t be on scholarship right away at PSU, but he will have an opportunity to earn a scholarship later in his career.
The pending move to college, however, will not mean any good news for Central’s opponents this spring, when the high school boys’ volleyball season gets underway. Clemens figures to be smashing home kills from setter Dylan Hose with the hopes of bringing home a second PIAA title to the school in the last four years.
“No, I’m still going to be an outsider hitter this year,” he said. “I always love pounding the ball over getting digs. But it’s just one of those things where you just have to learn a different position.
“So it’s going to be a different transition to college from outside hitter to libero, but (Central York assistant) Coach (Todd) Goodling, who’s honestly the best coach I’ve ever had, I know that he’ll help me with the footwork. So I’m not overly worried about that. I know he’ll help me get transitioned.”
The Panthers figure to once again be one of the top contenders for the York-Adams League, District 3-AAA and PIAA Class AAA titles this year. Along with Clemens and Hose returning for their senior years, Central will also have Alex Klunk, Brett Lomicky and Ryan Gardner back from a team that finished third in the District 3-AAA Tournament a year ago.
Perhaps just as important, however, is that Clemens and his teammates pretty much play together in club ball during the offseason.
“It’s awesome playing with the guys year-round,” he said. “We all know the style that each one of us play. And they’re a pretty good group of guys, too, so I can’t ask for anything more than that.”
– Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.