A Spike in Freshman Participation in Varsity Volleyball

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By Abby Fletcher

Tuscarora High School is known for their outstanding athletic prowess from two time state champion girls cross-country, to the state runner up football team, boys and girls soccer, and cheerleading team. Tryouts are intense to find out who has the passion and drive to succeed in the sport. Because Tuscarora has supreme varsity athletics, it is very difficult for freshmen to make the varsity team, especially because most sports offer freshman and/or JV levels of play.  But it does happen. This year, it happened for Meghan Dunnigan and Ella Solomon on the varsity volleyball squad.

Ella Solomon who has been playing volleyball for three years, started playing her first year of middle school on I9 sports. “Tryouts were a combination of nerves, excitement, and determination,” said Solomon. The first day of tryouts can be overwhelming for a new highschooler, but Ella tried to stay calm and analyze her performance each day to try and impress the coaches. When Solomon received her letter on the last day of tryouts and opened it to see that it said ‘varsity’, she “couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the night.” After the initial excitement wore off Ella knew it was time to get to work. “I had so many butterflies the first day of practice. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I felt the need to prove to myself, and to my teammates, and to the coaches that I was put on varsity for a reason.” Taking those butterflies and turning them into fuel, Solomon helped her win back to back to back shut out games.

Meghan Dunnigan, the other freshman on the varsity squad, had a very nontraditional route to get to the team. After tryouts Dunnigan’s letter said she had made the junior varsity team initially upset she realized that I might be a blessing in disguise. “ I had to take a step back and think about how it might be a good thing that I didn’t make varsity so I could work on my skills and possibly get pulled up,” Dunnigan said. After one of the team’s’ pivotal games the varsity coach came up and talked to Dunnigan. To her surprise, the coach said she would be evaluated the following week to possibly get pulled up to the varsity team. “ This got me very nervous but I tried my hardest to not let it get into my head.” Dunnigan said. After being carefully evaluated by the coaching staff Dunnigan got word that she would now officially be on the varsity team. From all her hard work and determination after initially being put on the JV team, Dunnigan accomplished her dream of being on the varsity team. Now, playing alongside her older sister, Dunnigan is “excited for the years to come.”

Even though these freshmen have never ending nerves off the court, they keep a calm and cool exterior on the court. Their focus and passion for the game are evident because they reach above and beyond to play on the varsity team. They didn’t let their age hinder them in reaching their goals of playing on the varsity team. We could all take a page out of these girls’ playbook.