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Senior leads team with experience, commitment

Cayla Rivas | The Feather Online

Senior Celeste Counts, who was also nominated as a homecoming queen, waves to the crowd on homecoming night, Oct. 6.

As a fourth-year volleyball player, Celeste Counts brings her expertise and command of the court to the team. Young players look to her for guidance; she is a shining example of how to play with ease and aggressiveness.

This year, Counts takes on the role of libero. She specializes in defensive back-row passing – making sure the ball is kept in play no matter what. This requires constant focus in order to make sure the setter gets the opportunity to set up the ball for another player.

Counts enhances her skills from last year, and leads the team in compassion and vigor. Head volleyball coach Kit Maddox is proud of the work Counts puts in every day.

“Celeste is a tempest mixture of boldness, reason and truth,” Maddox said. “She is not afraid to admit fault, while having a quip remark, and diving straight in for the next play. When I started thinking of her as being our libero, I realized it would be the perfect spot for her to be a leader and communicate on the court. She has done really well; it was natural for her from the beginning, but she has grown with the role.”

Counts has played volleyball since fourth grade, moving to Fresno Christian from Oraze Elementary School. She started out as a freshman on the JV team, eventually working her way up to Varsity. In her last year playing, Counts is determined to make this year the best it can be.

Not only does volleyball provide an opportunity to bond with classmates, it strengthens character through rigorous training. Counts appreciates the advantage that being a libero offers in helping her grow.

“Volleyball has really taught me perseverance,” Counts said. “Especially being a libero, when people are hitting the ball at you and you don’t want to take it, that’s when you have to persevere and have patience with yourself. People say volleyball is not as physically demanding, but it really is a mental game where you have to be prepared; you can’t get down on yourself or else you’ll crack. I actually really like being libero because defense is my favorite thing to do, basically just digging and diving.”

Celeste shows leadership by encouraging us and leading us as a strong united team. She helps me out by encouraging me and pushing me to do my best. I see her as a mentor; I look up to her and can talk to her about anything, but she is also my friend and makes me laugh every time I’m with her. — Megan LeBlanc, ’21 

Volleyball generates a family atmosphere where new players are welcomed into the team with open arms. Counts appreciates this aspect of volleyball, and especially enjoys spending time with some of her younger teammates.

Whether it be in practice or in a game, Counts finds joy being around them. Megan LeBlanc, ‘21, recognizes the authority Counts displays.

“She shows leadership by encouraging us and leading us as a strong united team,” Leblanc said. “She helps me out by encouraging me and pushing me to do my best. I see her as a mentor; I look up to her and can talk to her about anything, but she is also my friend and makes me laugh every time I’m with her.”

Blake Deffenbacher | The Feather Online

Senior Celeste Counts (left) passes the ball while junior teammate Kaylee Clem  looks on.

Counts’ spirit for ministry is not only evident on the court, but at home as well. Her mom Angie Counts observes her humble attitude.

“When she is home she is very helpful,” Counts said. “Celeste is not one who likes the limelight. She loves being behind the scenes helping and making other people shine. No credit, but so consistent and just the glue for the team.  I believe that God is going to use her greatly as a support person and a great helper. She is like a mama with her baby chicks, encouraging and coaching them (the team) every play.”

Aside from sports, Counts enjoys singing with the Bellezza Ensemble. They are invited to sing at Carnegie Hall in spring with the FC choir. Last year the group had the opportunity to sing the national anthem at AT&T park.

Come out and support Counts at her next home game, Oct. 10. The team faces off against the Riverdale Christ Ambassadors.

For another sports profile, read: Carlee Whipple leads cheer team with passion, experience

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