Elsa LeGrand becomes first professional volleyball player in UMass Lowell history, signing with Fortuna Odense in Denmark

LOWELL, MA (July 7, 2010) – It started with an email, according to recently graduated River Hawk standout Elsa LeGrand (Highlands Ranch,Colo.). That email was followed by a series of Skype conversations, ultimately culminating in a offer to play professional volleyball.

In late June, LeGrand signed a contract to join Fortuna Odense of Denmark and become the first professional volleyball player in UMass Lowell history.

“It feels unreal to sign a contract to play professional volleyball,” said LeGrand. “Furthering my volleyball career after college has always been something I have reached for, but playing professionally is a dream come true.”

The explosive middle-hitter will make the jump to Demark on August 12 and join her teammates on the court a few days later. Currently the lone American on the Fortuna Odense roster, LeGrand will room with one or two of her new teammates who previously played for the Japanese national program.

During her stellar four-year career with the River Hawks, the Colorado native guided the team to a 65-65 overall record, while leading the club in blocks all four seasons. For her career, she tallied the second most blocks in UMass Lowell history with 413, one shy of the program record held by Lauren Dufresne (2001-04).

“I gained independence, confidence, and a stronger mentality for the game,” said LeGrand of her time at UMass Lowell. “The training and workout programs over the past four years have allowed me to become a more healthy volleyball player, therefore enabling me to compete at a professional level.”

A Northeast-10 All-Conference selection in all four years of her career, LeGrand was named to the Third Team in 2006, 2007 and 2009, and the Second Team in 2008. During her final season, the River Hawks stormed through the conference tournament to claim their first NE-10 Championship and first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2005.

“I hope that other athletes realize that they can further their career professionally and competitively if they wish to do so,” LeGrand said. “Especially since so many athletes who graduated in 2010 from UMass Lowell have signed professional contracts.”

LeGrand joins the likes of women’s soccer goalkeeper Jamie Gillis (Finnish Club GBK Damer) and men’s ice hockey players Carter Hutton and Nick Schaus (NHL San Jose Sharks), Ben Holmstrom (NHL Philadelphia Flyers), Jeremy Dehner (AHL Norfolk Admirals), Nevin Hamilton (AHL Providence Bruins) and Barry Goers (ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers) – who each signed contracts to play professionally after college.

Elsa, who graduated with a degree in Psychology, is one of four children of Fred and Cyndi LeGrand of Highlands Ranch, CO.