Sign, sign everybody signs: Five THS girls commit
With just a few days of school separating them from their respective futures, five seniors from Tonganoxie High's volleyball team signed letters of intent to play collegiate athletics May 12.
While Liz Baska (University of Dallas), Sami Franiuk (Pittsburg State), Hannah Herrstrom (Seminole State College) and Tracie Hileman (Fort Hays State) will be hitting, setting and spiking once they arrive on campus, Shannon Carlin (Kansas City Community College) decided she would be better suited putting a ball through a net rather than hitting it over one and decided to play basketball, her favorite sport since she was a child.
"I felt a little out of place because all of the rest of the girls were signing for volleyball," said Carlin, the only female senior Chieftain who will hoop collegiately. "But in the same vein I felt kind of cool because I was doing something different than they were."
None of the athletes, including the hoop head, took much convincing when volleyball coach Brandon Parker asked them about signing as a group and turning it into a party that included, friends, families and young girls whom the seniors had helped teach and coach the past few years.
Herrstrom said it was appropriate that the five players shared the moment because they have spent so much time with each other the past few years at THS.
"We all wanted to enjoy that memory together," said Herrstrom, who will play volleyball in Oklahoma. "It was really overwhelming."
Hileman agreed, explaining that the players made one another better and capable of becoming college athletes.
"It took each one of us to get where we are now," she said. "We wouldn't be the players we are without the people sitting next to us. I think that was part of it."
The players said they didn't really discuss that the ceremony marked the last time they likely will be together for a while, but Franiuk said it was probably on all of their minds.
"We realized, wow, we're getting ready to graduate, we're all signing to go off to college and I think we all felt that special moment," the PSU-Gorilla-to-be said. "That was really cool. I'm so glad to see that so many of us are going on to play college sports and I know that each one of us is going to succeed."
There was a point when Baska may have joined Carlin, her running mate on the THS basketball team, in choosing hoops instead of volleyball. She said she was actually being recruited by the UD basketball program until she told the coach she was more interested in playing volleyball.
It wasn't that Baska, who has played basketball competitively since the age of 10, was burned out on the sport she played so well for so long, she just has grown to enjoy volleyball more and more. At the end of the volleyball season Parker told her he, as well as his wife and co-coach Tiffany Parker, thought Baska could play volleyball in college if she so desired.
"I felt like I could grow more playing volleyball," Baska said of the deciding factor.
While each player had her own reasons for choosing her particular sport or program, Hileman said they were all glad to share one last moment as Chieftains.
"It's kind of nice in a way," she said. "I'm going to miss them like crazy, but it's nice to have it decided and have a path to follow."
KVA honors Chieftains
A number of THS volleyball players received accolades from the Kansas Volleyball Association this year.
The KVA's 23rd Annual All-Star match, to be held at Washburn University in Topeka on June 7 at 7 p.m., will feature two Chieftains - Franiuk and Hileman.
Additionally, six THS players received academic honors from the KVA.
The 2007 All-Academic First Team included Baska, Franiuk, Hileman and Lindsey Himpel. Abby Eisman and Herrstrom received honorable mention.