Nov. 17, 2015

By Russell Dorn

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – West coast high school volleyball standouts Jemma Yeadon and Lauren Woodard are heading to the Midwest to continue their academic and athletic careers, as the outside hitting duo recently committed to attend the University of Notre Dame and play for national championship winning head coach Jim McLaughlin.

The two high school stars are the first recruits to commit to play for McLaughlin, who is wrapping up his first year as the leader of the Irish volleyball program after more than 20+ elite years between Southern California, Kansas State and Washington.

“Everyone involved with our program is thrilled that Jemma and Lauren have elected to join the Irish family,” said McLaughlin. “We believe both Lauren and Jemma will be great additions to the program and will help fill some of our immediate needs. They both are very talented players but also have the strong character values we look for in our student-athletes. We expect them to have a positive impact on our program as soon as they arrive on campus.

A 2015 Under Armour second team All-American and Prep Volleyball Senior Ace (top 250 players in U.S.), Yeadon is one of the top candidates for player of the year in a talented volleyball state (Washington). A Mercer Island, Washington product, Yeadon brings a powerful arm and a highly competitive spirit to the Irish. She is listed at 5-9, but can touch 10-2 and has totaled over 1,200 kills and 1,000 digs in her prep career.

“Jemma is a young lady I’ve known for a long time,” said McLaughlin. “We had targeted Jemma early in the process as one of the most athletic outside hitters in her class and we felt she would fit in extremely well and provide us with some things we have lacked. I have watched her develop and improve her skills every season and I can’t wait to help her take the next step in her development. With her God-given athletic gifts, she can do some things a lot of kids just can’t do. For example, she can attack high but also fast. She has a very fast arm-swing and is mechanically sound. As she develops her range with specific tools for specific situations, I expect her to become one of the best and most complete outside hitters in the ACC.

“I have asked Jemma to improve ALL areas of her game and she has made good progress. It helps that she comes from a club program (Sudden Impact) that trains at a high level, which is grounded by sound principles.

“But what I admire even more than her physical ability is her heart. Jemma has a very deep drive and competitiveness that the very elite have to have. She, like Lauren, also wants to be great. Again, her skill level is very complete but she must continue to get better, including specifically her skills as a passer. We are excited to get to work on all parts of her game when she arrives on campus this fall.”

Woodard, meanwhile, is a solid defender and has the ability to compete at multiple positions for the Irish. The San Diego, California native was named an Under Armour Honorable Mention All-American and a Prep Volleyball Senior Ace. Woodard is a captain on her Cathedral Catholic High School team as a senior and has experienced great success on the club scene from an early age.

“Lauren is an outside hitter with a nice skill level,” said McLaughlin. “She has a good arm and moves well at this point in her development. The thing I like most about Lauren is her drive. She competes at a very high level and will do everything she can to become a great collegiate player. She is a person of outstanding character and she will do whatever it takes to become great. Lauren appears to be a player that isn’t afraid to feel a little uncomfortable to make the necessary improvements day-to-day and I appreciate that about her. I look forward to getting in the gym with Lauren as soon as possible.”

With the addition of Yeadon and Woodard, McLaughlin and his Irish program will look to take the next step in building a championship-level program. Notre Dame should boast a far more experienced roster in 2016, after a combined 12 freshmen and sophomores filled the 15-woman roster in 2015.

“While both of our recruits are exceptional volleyball players and have the drive to become great at the next level, what really sets them apart from some of the other top talent is the fact they are extraordinary people,” said McLaughlin. “Both have a lot to offer our program beyond their athletic talent. We look forward to helping both Jemma and Lauren become the players they want to become and we will work very hard to help them get to where they want to go. We feel very fortunate that both of them have chosen to come to the University of Notre Dame and will be able to help us become a top program nationally.”

Lauren Woodard
Outside Hitter
San Diego, California
Cathedral Catholic High School

HIGH SCHOOL & PERSONAL: Set to graduate from Cathedral Catholic High School (San Diego) in June 2016 ââ’¬¦ earned four letters in volleyball ââ’¬¦ named an Under Armour Honorable Mention All-American, a Prep Volleyball Senior Ace and a team captain before senior year began ââ’¬¦ also tabbed a Union Tribune San Diego Player To Watch before season began ââ’¬¦ helped team win San Diego League championship with state playoffs still ongoing ââ’¬¦ earned all-league honors after leading the league in kills, blocks and digs as a junior in addition to all-academic accolades ââ’¬¦ was a Union Tribune San Diego Player To Watch before the year began ââ’¬¦ earned all-league honors for the first time as a sophomore after pacing the league in hitting percentage, kills, blocks, digs and service aces ââ’¬¦ helped lead team to a regional championship as a freshman before squad claimed the CIF California state championship ââ’¬¦ led the league in kills and blocks ââ’¬¦ 17U club team finish ranked first in the 17U division of the Southern California Volleyball Association in 2015 ââ’¬¦ the same 17U squad stepped up into the 18U division during the same year and finished third in the SCVA ââ’¬¦ the team won the 2015 Spokane qualifier in 2015 and won bronze medalist honors at the 2015 Triple Crown ââ’¬¦ off the court, participated in the Cathedral Catholic Campus Ministry, the National Charity League and Student Council ââ’¬¦ was part of the National Honor Society and was on the school’s honor roll all four years ââ’¬¦ Lauren Lynne Woodard was born in Seattle, Washington to Stephen and Janelle Woodard ââ’¬¦ has an older brother, Brandon, and a younger brother, Garrett ââ’¬¦ uncle, Kevin Finigan, played baseball at Claremont McKenna College before being drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 22nd round of the 1986 Major League Baseball Draft ââ’¬¦ will enroll in First Year of Studies ââ’¬¦ interested in business.

Jemma Yeadon
Outside Hitter
Mercer Island, Washington
Mercer Island High School

HIGH SCHOOL & PERSONAL: Pronounced JEM-uh YAY-din ââ’¬¦ set to graduate from Mercer Island High School in June 2016 ââ’¬¦ earned four letters in volleyball ââ’¬¦ has over 1,200 kills (.371 A%), 170 service aces, 1,000 digs and 75 blocks entering final month of senior year ââ’¬¦ tabbed a second team Under Armour All-American in October 2015 ââ’¬¦ named a Prep Volleyball Senior Ace before senior season in addition to earning team captain honors ââ’¬¦ one of top candidates for Washington State Player of the Year according to ââ’¬¦ helped lead squad to Kingco 3A conference regular season and tournament championships as a senior ââ’¬¦ named the conference’s MVP ââ’¬¦ totaled 242 kills (played OH for only half of the season due to injury), 35 service aces, 335 digs and 27 blocks as a junior ââ’¬¦helped team win conference tournament championship … earned Seattle Times Star Times Volleyball all-area honors ââ’¬¦ also received all-Kingsco 3A first team honors at libero and outside hitter ââ’¬¦ was a co-captain for Mercer Island ââ’¬¦ helped team win conference championship ââ’¬¦ posted 335 kills, 46 service aces, 283 digs and 22 blocks as a sophomore to earn a spot on the Prep Volleyball Soph 79 list ââ’¬¦ Mercer Island won conference and region championships before claiming its first state title in school history ââ’¬¦ earned spot on all-Washington State tournament team ââ’¬¦ tallied 243 kills, 34 service aces, 183 digs and seven blocks as a freshman in earning Puget Sound all-region honors ââ’¬¦ helped team to conference and region titles ââ’¬¦ played club volleyball for the Sudden Impact Volleyball Club at the U17 and U18 levels ââ’¬¦ U17s squad qualified for junior nationals in the open division ââ’¬¦ has captained club team since U12s ââ’¬¦ off the court has participated in the National Honor Society, Jack and Jill of America (Teen Group Treasurer and Teen Director of Community Service) and the New Beginnings Christian Fellowship ââ’¬¦ Jemma Joelle Yeadon was born in Morristown, New Jersey to Joseph and Loria Yeadon ââ’¬¦ has a brother, Terrell, an older sister, Lorial, and a younger sister, Stirling ââ’¬¦ father, Joseph, played football at Kean College ââ’¬¦ will enroll in First Year of Studies at Notre Dame ââ’¬¦ interested in bio-chemistry and business.

Individual match tickets for Notre Dame volleyball’s last two home matches in 2015 are on sale. The Irish play Georgia Tech (7 p.m. Friday) and Clemson (1 p.m. Sunday) this weekend (November 20 & 22). Visit or call the Murnane Family Ticket Office at 574-631-7356 for more information.

For the latest Irish volleyball coverage, be sure to log on to or follow the program on Facebook (/NDVolleyball), Twitter (@NDVolleyball), Instagram (NDVBall) and Snapchat (NDVolleyball).


Russell Dorn, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2011 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame volleyball, rowing and baseball programs. A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, Dorn graduated from Furman University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in history before earning his master’s degree in sports communications from Georgia State University in 2011.