WHEATON – Growing up, Jeff Jendryk was all about the sport of basketball.
But thanks to prodding from his dad and sisters, he decided to give volleyball a try at St. Francis High School.
A few years later and many inches taller, Jendryk is one of the top middles in the Class of 2014 and a recent commit to Loyola University.
It certainly runs in the family. Jessica Jendryk just graduated from the University of Illinois and will play one final season at St. Louis University while Jenna Jendryk will be a sophomore at Dayton.
“My sisters were well known for playing volleyball,” said Jendryk, a Wheaton resident, “and my dad was like, ‘Why don’t you give it a shot?’ It turned out really well I guess.”
Watching his sisters play countless matches, Jeff Jendryk already had the knowledge. It now was a matter of transferring that onto the court.
“I knew a lot about the game but didn’t know the technique,” he said. “Luckily, I picked it up pretty quickly and my coaches helped me a lot. I’ve pretty much improved a lot, a crazy amount.”
Joining the Sports Performance Volleyball Club also provided a boost, as did shooting up from 6-foot-1 when he entered high school to his current height of 6-foot-8.
Now it’s year-round volleyball – from club to high school and back to club. But that wasn’t the case just a few years ago. During tryouts for his first foray into the club scene, the coach approached Jeff’s dad.
“He asked how long he has been playing,” said Jendryk’s father, Jeff, “and I said, ‘About 15 minutes.’”
His rise up the ranks has been impressive to watch, and in March, Jendryk received word that he had made the USA Youth National Team. But the FIVB World Championships in Mexico happened to fall at the same time this summer as the Club Nationals, so he was unable to attend.
“I was very excited,” Jendryk said. “I didn’t think I’d make it so when I did, I was going crazy.”
With his many accolades, Jendryk had his choice of college destinations. The incoming high school senior also looked at Penn State, Ohio State, Lewis and Ball State before selecting Loyola.
“The thing I liked the most was that it is pretty close to home,” said Jendryk, who visited the school on three occasions. “My parents can come and watch me. Plus it is right next to Lake Michigan, which is pretty cool. And the volleyball team is really good and it’s a really good school academically.”