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Local Sports Hero - Jenna Ewert

29 September 2016 Written by  By Michelle Lassle
Published in October 2016 Articles

Most competitors in the volleyball world begin their training at the youngest possible age, some of them first touching a ball at two years old.

 Jenna Ewert did not. Despite the fact that her mother played in high school (and was scheduled to compete for Cal before a car accident put an abrupt stop to her career) and her older brother played, Jenna was not bit by the volleyball bug until she was 12. “I would go to my brother’s club practices and play with the guys on the team,” Jenna said. “I just remember falling in love with it, so I told my mom that it was time for me to start.” Jenna joined a club team and finally began competing at 13. “Usually volleyball is a family sport, so you’ll get into it around four or five years old. Thirteen is actually really late.”

Volleyball was not Jenna’s first try at sports. She originally joined a swim team at eight years old and continued competing in the water until the summer before her freshman year. In that time frame Jenna had also taken a stab at soccer but chose to end that endeavor to do gymnastics instead. However, once Jenna experienced all that volleyball had to offer, she quit all other sports to focus on her true love. “Volleyball is the best sport ever,” Jenna said. “It’s hard to describe. The people you meet that play this sport are the best people you will ever know. The whole culture is amazing; you can’t get that with any other sport.”

Her first year on a team, Jenna was trained to be a setter. However, her team ended up needing her strong arm on the right side. So for two years Jenna switched between the setter and right side positions. When she was 15 Jenna and her coaches realized that she wasn’t going to be tall enough to compete as a right side in college, so she permanently shifted her focus to being a full-time designated setter. “I enjoy being a setter so much more,” Jenna said. “You’re involved at every point. When a hitter gets a kill they feel good about themselves, but when you’re a setter, it feels even better knowing that you helped them to feel that way.” Jenna also said that she likes having control over which way the game will go, whether the team wins or loses, but she admitted that with power comes pressure. “The position is stressful because you have to think about every play 20 steps before it happens. For me I feel added pressure because I basically just started. I’m behind all the other girls, so I have to catch up that much faster.”

As a freshman at Deer Valley High School, Jenna made it straight onto the varsity team, and each season has improved for the current junior. “Last year we were third in the league and made it to NCS,” Jenna said. “That was even better than the year before.” Jenna enjoyed a personal best last year in Deer Valley’s game against Liberty. “I got 32 kills in that match, which tied me with my brother.” Now in the middle of her junior season, Jenna is focusing on juggling her two hour long after school practices, two games per week, AP U.S. History, AP Language, and Pre-Calculus. Then once her high school season ends, Jenna gets one month off before jumping right into her club season with Absolute Volleyball Club in San Rafael. However, her break doesn’t truly count as time off. “That month in between will be spent in the gym with private sessions with my club coaches,” Jenna said. “I don’t want to slack off or lose what I’ve learned.” Setting is all about accuracy and preciseness. It all comes down to how many times in a row the player can place the ball where it needs to go. Jenna’s focus is to master the different setting techniques. “I need to be in the gym every week setting over and over again to the spot the ball needs to go so I get the feeling of it. All of the other setters have been doing this forever, so I need to spend as much time as possible working on it.” Jenna also uses a setter’s ball to practice against the wall about 300 times a day to strengthen her wrists.

Even though she is only a junior, Jenna is already committed to attend University of Colorado Boulder to play for their volleyball team. She did receive offers from other universities, but Colorado seemed like the best fit. “I loved the campus, the coaches, the team, and the way they ran their practices,” Jenna said. “They’re also in the Pac-12, which allured me even more. It’s going to be an adventure.” Jenna’s hope is to compete at the college level, then travel overseas to play for a few years, and hopefully earn a spot on the national team for the 2024 Olympics. “If I’m still in shape enough, maybe I’ll even make it to the 2028 Olympics,” Jenna said. “I’ll keep doing it until I can’t play anymore.

Read 1225 times Last modified on Thursday, 29 September 2016 21:23
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