Thanksgiving 2023: Grateful For The Game
Players featured in this article:
MB | Jacksonville Junior Volleyball Association
OH | Rockwood Thunder
Cambria Kuipers | 2025
L | Tampa United Volleyball Association
Halle Thompson | 2026
OH | Houston Skyline
Kenlee Barnard | 2026
S | Circle City
Ayanna Watson | 2026
OH | Vegas Aces
Marissa Jones | 2027
S | A5
Hazel Alevok | 2025
MB | Wildfire
OH | Metro Volleyball Club
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We at PrepVolleyball.com have so much to be thankful for this year! From our newest freelance contributors to our readers, parents, players, and coaches, we are so grateful for allowing us to shed a positive light on the game we all love and supporting us throughout the year! We have even more great content coming in the next few weeks and months, including a newly updated website! From our prep family to yours, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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 "I love watching volleyball because my granddaughter, Abigail plays! Her team, Northlake Christian School in Covington, La, recently won the Louisiana Division 4 State Championship! It is a Godly gift to be able to watch her excel in a game she loves and will continue to do so at the collegiate level. This is a pic of Abigail and her parents and siblings. I am the granddad!"

~Bob Drury, Northlake Christian

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"I am So thankful for a huge support system and family in coaching.  It takes an entire supportive family to do what I was born to do.  My mom was diagnosed with Parkinsons (seen here in wheelchair) in 2007 before my first state championship.  Here she is having attended all 9 state championships with my dad and family."

~Coach Ryan Mitchell, Prestonwood Christian
 

"I am thankful for the amazing journey volleyball has taken me on so far. As a player who plays in both school and club leagues, I can't help but reflect on volleyball's incredible impact on my life. Volleyball has become an important part of who I am, bringing me joy, inspiration, and personal growth. Through countless practices and games, it has helped me develop resilience, teamwork, discipline, and determination. My teammates and coaches have become my second family, and the friendships built are irreplaceable. We've celebrated wins and learned from losses, creating an unbreakable bond. Volleyball has taught me the importance of setting goals, working hard to achieve them, and being a good teammate. It's shown me that setbacks are just stepping stones to success, and that mindset has empowered me in all aspects of my life. Thanks for being a part of my volleyball journey, and here's to many more amazing experiences ahead!"

~Ammecy Ray, Naperville North/Sports Performance VB

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"Volleyball isn’t just a sport, it’s a family. A home you can go to, to block out all the negative things in your life. For many people, a home is where you can be yourself. When I was younger, I played a lot of sports; soccer, swimming, gymnastics, and tennis,but only one of them fit perfectly – volleyball.Volleyball gave me the opportunity to just block out everything else and play the sport I love. Once I got older, and school got harder, maintaining good grades was another expectation added. Figuring out who my real friends were became another anxiety stressor. Being in high school - now money and preparing for college adds to the list but when I am in the gym – that is all gone. Right when I walk through the doors all I can think of is to play the best volleyball with my teammates and I am very thankful for that. Having teammates creates that family feeling they help me when I need it and I hope to be able to give it back to them. Through all the anxiety of growing up in 21 st century, the family of volleyball gives us the support we need. So, this Thanksgiving I’ll be giving my thanks to the biggest part of my life –

 JJVA volleyball and to my JJVA teammates

 who I can call FAMILY."

~Molly Fitzpatrick, JJVA

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"This year has been the most incredible journey because one way or another it was going to end bitter sweet.  You see I am the Head Coach at Carrollwood Day School, my wife Sarah is the assistant, my youngest Lydia is a freshman, and my oldest Naomi, a senior, just signed to play and serve at  WEST POINT.  Pretty much we were always on the bench together, BUT after this season Lydia and Naomi would never be in the same huddle again.  So when the playoffs came around and it was win or go home, there was only one thing to do...keep winning, make it last just one more game.  Yes, we have a great team and we had a great chance to win the state championship...but this was different.  I was selfish!  I wanted another match...we wanted another match!The Chinchar family is always on the bench together.  When we won it all, Naomi hugged me and I didn't want to let her go.  I hugged my wife and just said that we did it...it was the perfect family ending.I am thankful that our family had one last run together...all of us winning the FL 3A State Championship!!!!!!  31-2"

~Coach Douglas Chinchar, Carrollwood DaySchool

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Volleyball, a sport that combines athleticism, strategy, and teamwork, has been an integral part of my life. As I reflect upon my journey in this captivating game, I cannot help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Volleyball has not only provided me with countless memorable moments and achievements, but it has also shaped my character, taught me valuable life lessons, and introduced me to lifelong friendships. I express my deep appreciation for volleyball and elucidate the reasons why this sport holds a special place in my heart. It has given me a platform to challenge myself physically and mentally, and has shaped me into a more resilient, disciplined, and determined individual. As I continue my journey in volleyball, I will forever remain grateful for the profound impact this sport has had on my life.

~Ayanna Watson, Bishop Gorman/Vegas Aces

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"My interest in volleyball was sparked through hanging out with my friend Dana who after high school went on to be a setter at LaSalle and then Temple University in the early 90's. 

I then married a volleyball player who I refer to as The Boss. She earned the name by being a Boss in volleyball, basketball and softball. Instead of going to parties/clubs we would spend our Friday nights playing volleyball until late in the night with friends. We celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary this year. Now that our kids are in college, I made a league team called D8NYT for myself and my good friend who I met through volleyball, to spend one night a week playing volleyball with our wives. We can't keep up with the young players anymore, but we enjoy our time together with our better half!My daughter plays volleyball and we recently celebrated her senior night at the university that she plays for. I've met and made many great friends through volleyball over the past 35 years. 

I'm thankful for the all the fun time spent with my wife from playing to coaching to watching as parents. I'm thankful for all the friends I've made as a coach and a player parent. I'm very very grateful for the letters I receive from my players or their parents each year explaining how I have made a significant impact in their lives and that they wanted to let me know how grateful they are for my influence coaching them in life as well as volleyball.

Dana went on to have a great record "setting" career (pun intended), but I am thankful for her spark that led to the huge positive influence in my life and so many others that I've coached and played with over the years. Each year I always make sure I wish Dana "Happy Birthday!" although we rarely get to see each other anymore. I was truly blessed and I'm thankful that we became friends."

~Coach Michael (Coach Egg) Eggleton, Michigan Elite

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"We are SO THANKFUL for the Big Sky Volleyball Club in Bozeman, Montana. It is the only club in Montana that pulls the best girls from all over the state to put together teams that compete at the USAV Qualifiers Open level.  Due to some girls traveling 2-3 hours to Bozeman to practice, we can only get 1 practice in a week. We may not be a top ranked national club or winning any of the Qualifiers, but Big Sky Volleyball Club is getting these girls exposure to colleges outside of Montana that are offering full scholarships - opportunities that wouldn't have been there otherwise."

~Leela Berry Ormsby, Big Sky Volleyball Club
 

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"This year our team went 24-1 for our high school season! While I am thankful for the winning record, I am more thankful for the team that made that record happen. They were a committed group of girls that showed up daily to work hard and get better. They enjoy being in the gym together and once game time came, they were able to showcase their growth and skills! Not every year do you have the opportunity to coach such a successful team, but on top of it a great group of girls!"

~Coach Jen Snowbarger, Wooster High

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"As a parent, I am thankful for volleyball.... I am thankful for volleyball for the joy it brings my daughter. I am thankful for the family she's discovered. I am thankful for her finding belonging. I am thankful that I get to see her grow. I am thankful I get to see your daughter grow alongside her. I am thankful for you, fellow parents, coaches and players for sharing the gym with us. A picture is worth a thousand words. I am thankful for volleyball."

~Brent Rhodes, Brandon High

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"I have been a volleyball coach for 22 years. This past year in 2022, a past player of mine joined me on the Bend High coaching staff. At the very end of the 2022 season and on her birthday at 22 years old she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am so thankful she was a part of our volleyball family. The team, players, parents all kept her going during her darkest times and times when she was ready to give up. One year later we were able to recognize her and thank her for all she taught US this past year. I know she would be in a different place in her life right now if she did not have volleyball and the team in her life."

~Coach Kristin Cooper, Bend High

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"My name is Marissa Jones and I love being a volleyball setter! I am in the 9<sup>th</sup> grade and have played volleyball since I was 8 years old. I play on the Varsity Team at Woodward Academy in College Park, GA, and the 15-1 Kelly Team with A5 Mizuno Volleyball Club in Alpharetta, GA. On this Thanksgiving I am so thankful for having an opportunity to do what I love most, which is being a volleyball setter!! Being on the court brings me so much joy and I feel blessed to be able to meet so many diverse and talented people from all over the world playing the sport I love!!I am also beyond thankful for my wonderful parents for all the unconditional love and support they have continued to give me. They make so many sacrifices to support my volleyball efforts. My parents are selfless and are always there for me. No matter how many games I have played in or how far the tournaments are, my parents have never missed watching me play. They are my biggest cheerleaders, and I feel so lucky and blessed to have them on this Thanksgiving!!"

~Marissa Jones, Woodward Academy/A5 Mizuno

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"I am thankful for my family, because they are the reason I’m traveling around the whole country to help me achieve my goals. I am also thankful for my teammates, because without them we wouldn’t be one of the top 15U teams in the nation. Finally, I am thankful for Coach Amy and Coach Nathan. They made 11 strangers become family and believe in one another for ONE goal. I also have grown as a player with their trust & support. Thank you everyone that has help me through my career so far! Happy Thanksgiving!!!!"

~Jayden Robinson, Houston Skyline

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"I am thankful for coaching in a community where EVERYONE (literally) is a part of the program.  My sensational year as runner-up in the 1A IHSA State Tournament with only 49 students is amazing - our THEME this season was Ted Lasso BELIEVE - and We BELIEVED ourselves all the way to the State Championship Match!"

~Jenna Hayes, Hartem Volleyball

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"When I was younger, I was shy and barely raised my hand in class.  The person who in a group project would always just do whatever.  Because I’ve been playing volleyball as a Libero for 6 years now, I have had to learn to be vocal and take charge of the court.  I am thankful that the volleyball game has taught me how to speak up, be heard and lead.  I wanted to share these skills with other girls.  For the last 2 years, I have organized multiple collection drives of shoes, jerseys, and equipment to be donated to the Samaritan’s Feet Youth Volleyball Mission.  Not only have my Tampa United and Plant High teammates donated, but those at Hillsborough Community College and other clubs. I am thankful for this generous Tampa Bay volleyball community helping me lead these collections.   I owe a lot to volleyball and can’t wait to see where the game leads me next."

~Cambria Kuipers, Plant High/Tampa United

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"Volleyball holds a special place in my heart because it has taught me valuable life lessons. The sport has taught me the importance of teamwork, communication, and perseverance. It's amazing how six individuals can come together and work as a cohesive unit to achieve a common goal. The feeling of winning state with my favorite people on the court is unmatched. I'm also grateful for the physical and mental benefits that volleyball brings. The fast-paced nature of the game keeps me on my toes and challenges me both physically and mentally. But what truly makes volleyball special is the pure joy and excitement it brings. The adrenaline rush when I dive for a ball, the satisfaction of a perfectly executed set, and the exhilaration of a powerful hit are moments that make me feel alive. The energy on the court is contagious, and it's hard to replicate that feeling in any other sport. Overall, volleyball has given me unforgettable memories, lifelong friendships, and a sense of belonging. It's a sport that has shaped me into the person I am today, and for that, I am incredibly thankful."

~ Halle Thompson, Grand Oaks

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"I am thankful for lifelong friends, made through school, club, camp, and USA Volleyball!"

- Hazel Alevok, IMG Academy
 

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"I am thankful for my family and friends and for having the opportunity to play high school and club volleyball."

~Dani Clewis, West Ranch/Legacy VBC

"As the dad of a former VB Player, Mikaela Foecke, I can say that lifelong friendships are what my wife, Kathleen, and I are most thankful for when it comes to Mikaela’s years of playing volleyball.

However, the list of what we are thankful for is really much longer than that, when we stop and ponder it.

Opportunities – lots of them

Travel – around the country as well as overseas

Family time – in the car and in the gym

Learning opportunities – the wins and losses – You can’t just be a good winner, because you’ll never win all the time.Time Management skills

Eating Healthy, Living Healthy & Being Healthy

Teamwork – Our family motto is still “Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork”

The list could go on and on, volleyball has been a huge part of our lives, and continues to be important to us today!

We love seeing how much Volleyball has come along in the National spotlight over the last 15 years!

There are tons of opportunities for young female athletes at all levels that are willing to put in the time in the gym and work hard!

Happy Thanksgiving!!"

~Brian Foecke, Former VB Dad
 

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"I'm thankful that volleyball has allowed me and my 3 sisters to learn and  compete in great team sport. I thankful for the coaches and trainers  that coach me, believe in me and challenge me.  I'm thankful for my teammates and our forever sister bond. I'm thankful  for  being able to help co captain Bishop McNamara High School/Coach K  to historical back to back seasons. I’m thankful for playing with Metro VBC  for my 8th consecutive year! I'm thankful for God, friends, family, Sportsmom Foundation and especially my Mom and Dad."

 

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"I most thankful for how volleyball is how it promotes much needed life skills such as collaborating and communicating on the court.  You have to think quick and work as a team.  Volleyball indeed has a unique way of building resilience and determination. The constant challenges on the court translate well into facing obstacles in life, reinforcing the importance of persistence and the drive to overcome difficulties. Going into my third season with a very highly competitive club team makes me appreciate the the game even more."

~Ania Bass, Paramount VBC
 

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"I’m thankful for the person I have become over the years playing a game since age 9. I have learned so much from many people and have cherished all the memories. I want to give a special shout out to Coach John Rodgers from Rockwood Thunder who got my teammate and I out of our indoor comfort zone this summer. We had a blast at the USAV beach Nationals and it was definitely a challenge that we loved. We learned so much from him and coaches like this are truly one of a kind! Also to all my teammates who continue to push me to strive me to achieve more and reach for the stars!

I am forever grateful to all the amazing referees who can make our qualifiers and highschool games possible, coaches, parents, friends, our SJA teachers, and all those who give time to get their coverage on the sport—(prep vball,prep dig,avca,vball red hat lady and her staff,metro sports,UA next,Stl post etc) Volleyball is family and forever friendships!"

~Claire Morrissey, Rockwood Thunder/SJA

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"I am so thankful for my parents for pushing me toward my dream, giving up so much for me and driving me all the way to Indianapolis for practice."

~Kenlee Barnard, Circle City VB/Evansville North

10-Foot Club Top 5

Ten feet. If you can jump and touch the basketball rim, or higher, you are in rare air. These are the top members in our 10-Foot Club.
10-7
Taylor Harvey
(2025)
- UT
10-6
Giovanna Mason
(2024)
- TX
10-6
Hazel Alevok
(2025)
Wildfire
- FL
10-6
Leni Stanton-Parker
(2025)
Metro Volleyball Club of DC
- AL
10-6
Mimi Mambu
(2025)
Paramount Volleyball Club
- VA