Setting new standards

Freshmen bump up to varsity volleyball

Photo by Sreelikhi Vangavolu
Chelsea Williams, freshman, plays hitter and is also a starter.

Playing a varsity sport is certainly a goal many student-athletes strive to accomplish in their athletic careers, but there are a select few who reach that goal a little quicker than others. 

Heidi Mason, freshman, who has been playing volleyball since second grade, says she “didn’t think I would make varsity,” but she along with Chelsea Williams, freshman, who has been playing since kindergarten, were given a chance to play alongside upperclassmen. 

“It’s a little bit intimidating playing against and with a bunch of older girls but I’m really excited,” Williams said. “I think [playing on varsity] will help, especially when playing club and doing camps because now I’m used to playing with older people so when I’m doing camps, it’s not as intimidating when there are older girls there.”

Rachel Wiatrowski, varsity volleyball head coach, says she thinks that the speed of varsity is much different than it is on the freshmen level and those able to adjust to the speed show traits of a varsity-level player. 

Heidi and Chelsea both have some really good qualities in terms of aggressiveness. They’re not hesitant, so they don’t even have a little bit of the freshmen mentality. They’re going in and they want to compete, which I think is a little bit different than your typical freshman,” Wiatrowski said. 

Wiatrowski, who has been coaching at LZ for six years now, was able to examine the girls’

Photo by Olivia Donnelly
Heidi Mason, freshman, plays setter and thinks that she and the team feel really connected.

skills over the summer league. Wiatrowksi says she knew right away that Williams was at varsity level by the way she stood out from the other freshmen. 

Chelsea’s (Williams) got a great swing. She swings above what a typical 14-year-old girl would swing. She plays at a very high competitive level, both here and in club season, and she’s got great court sense, great court awareness and is turning out to be a really outstanding volleyball player as well,” Wiatrowski said. 

As well as Williams, Mason also showed Wiatrowski her hustle and her sense of knowing every position during the summer league.

“Heidi (Mason) is an excellent athlete. She has great volleyball IQ, and she’s very vocal on the floor,” Wiatrowski said. “She’s a hard worker and just right now she’s working really hard with varsity and making some good contacts on the ball and doing a good job.” 

Between her ability to work well with her teammates and her court vocality, Mason says she’s not only excited for the season but also quite enthusiastic that she’ll be able to take charge on the court as setter. 

“I’m setting so it’s really exciting because I kind of get to lead the court and tell people where to go and I’m excited for being able to play with older people,” Mason said.

Similar to being able to work well with their teammates, Mason and Williams say they agree that they have good relationships with their teammates and coaches off the court.

Williams, who first felt intimidated by the upperclassmen, now says “they feel like our older sisters, which is really fun.”

Another way in which Mason and Williams said they have bonded with their team is through spending time together outside of school. They’ve had team dinners and even went out to breakfast together one morning. 

Mason says she thinks that the team is already really close, even so early in the season, and that they’re all really starting to feel like a family.

“They’re so nice and everyone has been so kind. If I ever need a ride, someone will take me. It’s really great when you have those people because when you see them in the hallway you can say ‘hi’,” Mason said. 

Although they’re only freshmen, Wiatrowski says Mason and Williams are “doing a really good job of learning what it takes to be a part of the LZVB program and part of that family.”