Eastside High School senior and star volleyball player Katie Johnston signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Birmingham on Monday.
Johnston chose the University of Birmingham specifically because it allows her to spend her January semester next year for a month in Nicaragua.
"When I found out that Birmingham had a semester where I could take the time to go to Nicaragua, I felt like it was a sign from God that it was the college for me," Johnston said. "I went to Nicaragua earlier this year and fell in love with it. I love being able to go there and serve God's people."
Johnston started playing volleyball when she was 11 years old after deciding to try out the sport with one of her friends.
"We figured that we would both be good at it since we were both tall," she remembered. "Little did I know that it would come to be a special part of my life."
Johnston said her biggest inspiration is her older brother Zac.
"He is such a tremendous athlete and can play pretty much whatever he wants too," she said. "Plus he is able to avoid the temptations that comes with being far from home at college. He has always been someone I looked up too."
Johnston, who chose Birmingham over Gardner Webb, Swanee, Milligan, Piedmont, Oglethorpe and Montevallo, plans to continue playing volleyball all four years of college and possibly become a coach one day.
"I will never forget these past two years being able to play with my younger sister," she said. "It's become one of my favorite memories of playing volleyball."