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A New Adventure

Former UK star Alli Stumler ready to begin pro career in France. She’s never been to Europe but will spend the next 8-9 months in France playing volleyball.

Volleyball has always been a huge part of her life but Alli Stumler Linnehan is looking forward to starting a “new adventure” soon.

The former University of Kentucky volleyball star will leave for France in the next month to begin her professional career with Nantes Volleyball Club.

“Everything I have always done has revolved around my schedule with volleyball,” said Stumler. “How often do you get a chance to go to a new country? I have never been to Europe, so now I get to see some awesome cities and get paid for it.

“If I hate it, then I have my degree and can come back here. So why not go for it. I will hopefully love it and play until my shoulder falls off.”

She’s finishing the visa process and hopes to leave for Nantes, about two hours west of Paris, by the end of August. The process on where to play was not as complicated.

She found the agent she wanted after doing her own research and Nantes Volleyball had previously reached out to her.

“I was a little hesitant because it was my first offer. The agent said it was a good location with a good team and good facilities,” the former UK star said. “The team put a time restraint on my decision, It was the only contract I saw but I trusted my agent and went ahead and signed.”

She doesn’t know anyone on the team — an American player who played at Illinois will be back for a second season — but says most of the players and coaches speak English.

“I do not know French. Unfortunately I took Spanish in high school,” she said. “So far all our group messages have been sent with a French and English version.”

She will know two opponents — former UK teammates Madison Lilley and Avery Skinner play for the same team in the league

Another familiar face will be her husband. They were married in June and because he works remotely in sales, his company agreed to let him move to France and work from home.

“Because of the time difference, he will be working from like 1 or 2 p.m. to 10 or 11 but he can keep his job and come with me so it is all good,” she said.

Preseason work starts in mid-September and regular season play will begin after Christmas with the playoffs starting in April.

“I don’t think they play as many games as a college team but that’s a long season. It will take getting used to,” she said.

Along with getting married this summer, Linnehan worked various camps, including the UK camp where Lilley and Leah Edmond, another former teammate, also worked. The trio got in some extra workouts together.

She also worked camps in Maine and Louisville along with helping out with local club and high school teams. She also worked out two or three times per week with her trainer in Louisville.

“It probably was not as much volleyball as just training but hopefully that has me ready for what lies ahead,” Linnehan said.

Larry Vaught
Larry Vaught is a seven-time winner of the Kentucky Sportswriter of the Year award and has covered University of Kentucky sports since 1975. Larry now has a syndicated UK sports column appearing in 34 newspapers across the state as well as, and Larry also joins Mark Buerger and Anthony White on WLAP Sunday Morning Sports each week in Lexington as well as appearing each Tuesday with Tom Leach on The Leach Report.

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