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Elkhart native and Purdue alum Annie Drews has made history as the first Hoosier woman to ever play for the USA volleyball Olympic team.

In the process, she has inspired so many local Michiana volleyball players to have Olympic aspirations.

“I hope she feels all the camaraderie and the sisterhood and the family supporting behind her because we will be right there,” Penn High School Volleyball head coach Lisa Pawlik said.

Michiana is backing former Kingsmen volleyball star Annie Drews in Tokyo, especially her old high school program at Penn.

We have a philosophy here that everybody is a family and once you graduate, you are part of the sisterhood,” Pawlik said. “The fact that we have a sisterhood player who has been able to meet her dream and go to that huge level, we couldn’t be more happy for her.”

Drews’ former Penn teammate and current Kingsmen assistant volleyball coach Jordan Brough says Drews was like a big sister to her in high school. Brough says she knew even back then that Drews could be an Olympian.

“She had the mindset,” Brough said. “She had the athletic capability. She’s tall. Everything just went together. Her determination is definitely key there.”

Brough says she even sees some of those Olympic dreams on the current Penn volleyball team.

We have a lot of talent here and if they are willing to work hard and not just here but in college, I think there’s potential for sure,” Brough said.

The news has some of the Penn volleyball players believing that maybe someday, they can be Olympians just like Drews.

“I think it opens a lot of opportunities to younger girls, especially those attending Penn because it shows that anything is possible as long as you work hard,” Penn senior volleyball player Janet Moala said.

The Kingsmen say they will be watching closely this summer now that someone who was in their shoes will be competing at the highest level.

We already love watching the Olympics when volleyball comes on but especially knowing someone from Penn is on the team and is going to be playing this summer, it’s really different watching,” Penn senior volleyball player Taylor Hostetler said.

Drews brought home the hardware at Penn winning two state titles, and now, the community hopes she can do the same for the red, white and blue.

“We sure hope that she can bring home the gold and then maybe even step back into our gym with her gold medal and bring it all the way back to Penn High School,” Pawlik said. “We would absolutely love that.”

The volleyball competition in the Olympic Games in Tokyo gets started on July 24.

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