No Time Off:athletes share their experiences in a fully-committed sport

Isha Patel, Staff Writer

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Heading toward the back of the court, junior Samantha Schnitta takes her position, taking a step forward, tossing the ball up, serving the ball to the other side at the start of a volleyball game.

Ever since the third grade, Schnitta said volleyball has been her main sport. She said she chose volleyball not only because of her height, but also because of her competitive spirit.

“I kind of fell in love with it,” Schnitta said. “I have a competitive personality, so I like to compete for things and work hard to do my best.”

Schnitta said she currently plays for the MAVS-Mid America Volleyball club and just currently ended her 16 season during the summer.

“For club volleyball, it does work in ages. So there will be 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 [age divisions] and within the ages, there are more teams so you have the ones team which is the best and the twos, which is second and so on.”

She said she is very fortunate to play all positions on the court as a part of team one.

“How our season works [is] we start competitive ball in November, around Thanksgiving is when practices kick off and if you qualify for Nationals then you go all the way until the weekend of July 4th exactly,” Schnitta said.

Schnitta’s team has made trips to Colorado, Las Vegas, Omaha and Minnesota last year to compete and is considered a traveling team.

In addition to the three practices a week for two hours, Schnitta said she also receives outside training through a conditioning program called PSP3, to build up more muscle in order to move faster and be more efficient on the court. Knowing the commitment it would take, Schnitta said her interest in being recruited to play volleyball in college peaked in eighth grade.  She said her first big school was Tennessee, as she has been in the recruiting process since last year.

“[Colleges] aren’t allowed to contact you until Sept. 1 of your junior year,” Schnitta said. “So I was having to send all of the emails and having to call and get to know all of these schools I was interested in.”

She said Ole Miss had always been on the list of colleges she would like to attend and that there was a special connection with the school, especially since her mom attended and played volleyball there. Schnitta said the school never took an interest in her until one month after spring break when she received an offer. “I compared [the University of Mississippi]  to the other schools I was looking at and my personality,” Schnitta said. ”[I] was like ‘It’s perfect, this is where I am going to be, where I am going to grow.’”

Similar to Schnitta, freshman Ethan Houseworth said he has developed a similar mentality about soccer, and how the sport helps his grow after making the decision to the continue playing with his club instead of high school soccer. Houseworth said he has been playing soccer for almost 10 years, and five of those years were played competitively. He plays for the club PUMA South Hampton ESI 2003, in the first division team which is occupied mainly by 16-year-old boys. ESI stands for European Soccer Institute.

“We have to be at practice pretty much every day,” Houseworth said.  ”There are kids that quit [the team] because it is too much, or they want to do other things.”

Due to his participation in the ESI team, he said he is not allowed to play soccer on the school team during the fall. Houseworth said he made this decision as it was a priority of his to continue training his skills of being a goalkeeper year round.

“Right now, we [play] in the Nebraska League because [their boys teams] play [high school] soccer in the spring instead of the fall so we drive up every few weekends to play them; usually two to three times,” Houseworth said.

In addition to the frequent trips up to Nebraska, he said he has been to Dallas, Paris, France, and Guadeloupe to compete against other teams.

“Every spring break we go down to Guadeloupe, it’s a very small French island in the Caribbean, which is where my coach is from and there is an academy down there [that] we train with,” Houseworth said.

Furthermore, he said he spent two weeks this past summer in France with his team training and playing against other competitive academies.

“Basically we flew over there, [we were] there for two weeks,” Houseworth said. ”We went to a France national team game, which was really cool, [because] they won the World Cup, [and are now the] best team in the world. We traveled around every few days and went to different cities and towns and just played local academy teams there.”

He said the team has taken a trip like this in the past and it was a great experience, and he said his coach felt like going back to revisit, in which he said he had a great time.

He said with everything he has committed already to the sport and has only been playing competitively since sixth grade he said he can’t see himself quitting his ESI team to play for the school. However, he still has respect for the high school team.

“I just want to get across [that] Southwest has an awesome program and I hope to be a part of the winning tradition some day,” Houseworth said.

Like Houseworth, junior Glenne Harvell was the given the opportunity to travel abroad as well for a summer dance intensive program in Tuscany, Italy. For the past 13 years Harvell said she has been performing ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary dance.

“My favorite [type of dance] would be jazz and contemporary, but my schedule at my studio [is] pretty evenly balanced,” Harvell said. “I have ballet almost every day of the week, then jazz four times a week and contemporary once and tap once.”

For the past four years she said she has been spending three to five hours of her day at her studio, Crescendo Conservatory. Harvell said her studio splits each type of dance into levels: ballet and jazz one through seven, pointe one through four, and contemporary and tap into beginning, intermediate and advanced.

“The expectations are to not only to be role models for people below you, [but] to kind of show them something they could be, [and] also to be dedicated and hard working, and be in the performances and to work hard for what you want,” Harvell said. “I am on the highest level for all, so for my studio I am topped off with all because I am one of the oldest.”

As a result of all of her hard work and dedication to dance, Harvell said she received a scholarship to go and train in Tuscany, Italy with her dance teacher’s former partner, who put together a dance intensive for ballet students.

“Over the summer I flew out to Italy with my mom and my jazz teacher, and we spent two days in Rome and [then] the week long in Tuscany where I danced every day for 12 hours; it was really intense but an amazing experience,” Harvell said.

Toward the end of the intensive she said they had a final performance in which all of the participants were a part of a scholarship audition. She said she was lucky enough to win two more scholarships; one to go back next summer to train in the same intensive, and the other to join a week long project in Rome next summer that involves collaboration of the arts.

“I learned a lot; only two of my teachers spoke English there and all of my classes were in Italian,” Harvel said. “I tried my best to mentally focus on the dance and pick it up to the best of my ability.”

| ishapatel

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