Off the court/field
SV athletes get candid about their accomplishments and athletic journeys
November 11, 2020
Off the court: Chapter 1
Reagan Elizondo aims for a greater leadership role, state playoff run
For sophomore Reagan Elizondo, that is what she strives to be.
As a kid, Elizondo participated in dance, volleyball, and basketball. She made the decision to stick to volleyball because of her dream to play in college.
“I knew that if I wanted to go to a Division I college, then I needed to excel in volleyball” Elizondo said.
She made the varsity team as a sophomore and has seen ample playing time as the season progressed.
“I was excited to make the varsity team but kind of intimidated because I didn’t know all the players at first, but then I was really excited to play with them after I got to know them,” Elizondo said.
This season has been all about the wins, but that isn’t Elizondo’s favorite part.
“I like the dance parties we have in the locker rooms before the games,” she said. “I mean, of course, I love winning , but I think the dance parties are my favorite.”
Her favorite match of the season was against the Canyon Cougars.
“Especially because we hadn’t beat Canyon in a while, it was really nice to beat them,” she said. “I wanted to block every ball, like ain’t nobody was gonna hit past me.”
With the team playing to a 10-0 record in district, Elizondo embraces the team having a target on their back.
“Especially after not making the playoffs last year, it’s nice to know that people want to beat us because we know that we are going to come back harder than they will,” she said.
Elizondo set some personal goals for herself to accomplish as the season goes on.
“Of course, one of my biggest goals is going to the playoffs, and as that comes closer, then it’s going to state,” she said.
Farther down the road, she wants to be a bigger leader and louder voice on the court.
“I want to step up to be a leader when the seniors are gone,” she said. “It’s definitely going to be different when they are gone because they were the group that I was closest with, but I will definitely step up to the plate and make sure the team chemistry is still there.”
For this pin hitter, one word to describe this season is “impeccable, it’s been absolutely impeccable,” she said.
Off the court: Chapter 2
Maddie Dennis speaks on what it means to be a team
What is a team?
Webster Dictionary describes a team as “a number of persons associated together in work or activity.” However, for junior setter Maddie Dennis, “a team is much more.”
For Dennis, her story started at a young age. She ran track since the second grade and played volleyball since fifth grade. She would continue those sports through middle school until a knee surgery put her track career on hold. It wasn’t until the end of middle school, going into high school, when she turned to volleyball. As a freshman, she was put on the varsity volleyball roster and had to step up her game.
“The pace of the game was a lot more intense, especially cause I was a 14 year old playing with seniors in high school,” Dennis said. With the increase in intensity and the seriousness of each game at the varsity level, Dennis had to mature as a player a lot faster than most. “I had to mature very quickly and it wasn’t the hardest part, but I knew that I would definitely need to mature quicker compared to the other players in my grade,” Dennis said. She was a starter at the varsity level both freshman and sophomore year and saw a huge increase in skill each season.
Her hard work and desire to be at her best would be tested to the max this past summer when, in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak, Dennis contracted the virus. “I didn’t have it that bad but it did affect me” Dennis said, “it affected my endurance, I couldn’t breath as well, and I lost a lot of muscle because of it.”
However, her love for the game was stronger.
“I knew I had to work a lot harder to get ready, especially with the season being about two weeks away,” Dennis said. “I was running and lifting everyday, as it should be, but I felt like it was much more intense.”
Going into this season Dennis had some different goals then your normal athlete. Unlike most athletes that have a main goal of going to playoffs or winning the big game, she wanted to put her team first. “Last year I was in a bad place mentally and I felt like I hurt the team and brought them down with me.” However, “this year my goal was to keep a positive attitude on and off the court and not let last year repeat itself,” Dennis said.
She wanted to be more positive on and off the court and all that stemmed from her supportive team last year.
“My team helped me a lot last year. I felt like I just had to accept what was happening in my life at the time and they were a huge help in me doing that. I felt like I didn’t have anyone to go to and I knew I needed to just count on my team to help me get through it and they did because they were there for me. It really meant a lot to me,” She said.
Being a strong leader and a more vocal, supportive teammate has been very visible as the season has gone on. At every game you’ll see a very energetic Dennis, both on the bench and on the floor.
From the outside looking in, you’d think her favorite part of the season would be the wins. However, much like her efforts in becoming a more supportive teammate, Dennis’ favorite part is the bond between the players.
“My favorite part of the season is the bond between the team. We are all best friends and I think this is the closest team we’ve ever had come through the program, we are always there for each other no matter what and I think that’s my favorite part,” she said.
With there being six seniors leaving, one goal for Dennis is to be a role model. “I think just setting a good example for the underclassmen in the program and realizing that we will be the ones they will look up to. Next year we will be the seniors and they will look up to us,” Dennis said
This season, Dennis has tried to incorporate being more aggressive and more vocal on the court. “With college right around the corner and recruiting and all that, it was something I wanted to add to my game,” Dennis said.
Lastly, as the regular season comes to an end and we inch closer to playoffs, Dennis is as ready as ever to be out there, playing the game she loves, with the girls she considers family.
Off the field: chapter 3
Senior Helene Farris has overcome obstacles on her path to stardom
That is the best word to use when describing the journey of senior forward Helene Farris. But as they say, you can either shy away from a challenge or give it your all, and Farris did just that: she gave it her all.
Growing up, Farris always had a lot of energy. Sports were her outlet.
“I played many sports growing up,” she said. “It was a way to stay active and be able to go to bed at a decent time.”
The one sport that stuck was soccer.
“Soccer gave me a chance to run, and I had so much fun when I played the game” Farris said.
She played multiple sports up through middle school before ultimately deciding to stick solely with soccer. She looked to it as an opportunity to earn a scholarship, not to mention all of the fun she had playing for both her club team and school.
“Club soccer is a lot different than the school team” Farris said. “In club soccer, you play with a mixture of girls from all over the region, which really brings out the best in your game.”
She excelled on her club team, but the next step was catching the eyes of college scouts.
“I feel like a lot of people think that it’s easy to get the attention of scouts, but there is a lot that goes into it,” Farris said. “There is a lot of emailing coaches and getting your name out there that goes on behind the scenes.”
All of her hard work, emailing coaches and training would pay off her eight grade year, when she got her first offer from a collegiate program to play college soccer. The University of Texas at San Antonio was the first school to come calling, followed by the Air Force Academy and more.
“I took a lot of time just to think about it and take it all in,” Farris said. “I looked at what I wanted to do when I got older, and then I eventually committed my freshman year.”
She eventually narrowed her list down to UTSA, the University of Arkansas and St. Edwards. In the end, she went with her hometown team.
“It was the culture,” Farris said. “UTSA’s culture was a huge factor for me. The coaches were very welcoming to me, and it just felt like family. UTSA in particular was just a very positive place, and I know a lot of the girls from club and school [who play for the Roadrunners], so I was super excited to join them.”
Going into high school, Farris made the varsity team at LEE High School, one of the top programs in the nation. She was bombarded with stress and and high expectations early on.
“It was stressful, but at the same time it was super amazing because it forced me to be at the top of my game and as an athlete, that is all you want,” Farris said. “You want the pressure because it adds to the intensity and the joy of performing at your best.”
From her freshman year on she saw great progress in her play. She played center-forward, which allowed her to “see the game a lot better, and read the game in ways (she) couldn’t before.”
At LEE, she faced a great deal of pressure because of her UTSA commitment, but she performed even better than expected. Just as she was started to get acclimated to the varsity level, though, her season took a turn for the worst.
Farris’ ankle was broken. Her season was over, and she had a five-month long road of rehab and hard work ahead of her. But she took on the rehab just like she took on the challenge of chasing her dreams of playing college soccer: with a mindset of coming out stronger and even better.
Farris made the move to Smithson Valley earlier this year along with a smooth transition to the team and its workouts.
“At Lee, our workouts were a lot more strength-based, and here with Coach Adkins we do a lot more conditioning and cardio, which is good for me because you can never have too much cardio,” Farris said.
Her move came with a lot of changes, including adjusting to a new style of coaching, both on and off the field. One aspect that popped up was coach Jason Adkins’ use of constructive criticism, which Farris appreciates.
“Coach Adkins is so positive and such a great coach,” she said. “But he’ll hold everyone accountable, which is good … I think he gets the best out of not just me, but all his players because of that.”
The addition of Farris will make the already-competitive girls soccer team even more explosive, and give them another on-field leader once the season starts.
“She is a beast,” Adkins said. “I think the addition of her (Farris) really will help us this year.”
Farris said she was grateful to her new coaching staff and teammates for welcoming her in with open arms,and was excited to get back onto the field.
“I am ecstatic and super excited to play with the girls,” she said. “I love the girls, and I can’t wait to play with them and just be out there with them. It’s going to be super fun. I mean, this is a tough district, but we have to go in there confident, and I think we have the team to go far. I’m super ready. It’s going to be a great season.