Despite moving nearly 800 miles from Athens Academy, Peyton Wheeler has found a new home with the Eastern University volleyball program in St. Davids, Pennsylvania.

As a senior, the recent Spartan graduate helped her high school volleyball team reach its first Class A-Private state championship appearance since 2010 before falling to Mount Paran Christian in the finals.

Wheeler led her team on both sides of the ball, registering 343 kills and 409 digs to earn selections to the Region 8-A-Private first team and the Georgia High School Association’s Class A-Private all-state team.

While visiting with the Eagles, Wheeler saw similarities between the Eastern University and Athens Academy volleyball programs.

That proved to be a factor she knew would make her feel at home even though she was moving so far away.

“Why I love Eastern is because the team really reminded me of [Athens Academy],” Wheeler said. “The bond was great, friendship was great, everyone just really got along with each other. I'm just really gonna miss everyone because they're really like a family to me. And that's partly why I'm going to Eastern because I feel like I could find family there too as well.”

Not only did Wheeler feel like she could grow on the court at Eastern University, but she wanted to grow in other aspects of her life.

That was one of the reasons she decided on the school.

“I just want to find myself as a person, as a player and grow by myself a little bit and just kind of be independent,” Wheeler said. “The town reminded me a lot of Athens, which I love, and also the coach is just so great, the atmosphere, the school is great and it was just an ideal fit.”

As an Eagle, Wheeler intends on studying exercise science. She hopes to one day become an athletic trainer.

She plans on succeeding in the gym just as much as in the classroom.

Her primary goal for her upcoming season as an Eagle is to improve offensively and as a hitter of her game, but in future seasons she hopes to earn the Middle Atlantic Conference’s Most Valuable Player award, too.

“I really want to get that, I really want to strive for that,” Wheeler said. “It's a big, big goal but I like going for big goals.”

After her signing ceremony at Athens Academy in late April, Wheeler noted how important it was to be surrounded by friends and family as she celebrated her future plans to join the team at Eastern University.

“It's very heartwarming,” Wheeler said. “It means a lot, means the whole world to me.”

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