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Senior gains communication skills, creates memories

The 2018 volleyball season is officially in full swing, and for five of the varsity players, this begins their last high school volleyball endeavor. Senior Sophia Kalugin shares her appreciation for the sport and what it has taught her as she enters her last season.

Julia Fikse | The Feather Online

Senior Sophia Kalugin has played volleyball since fourth grade.

Kalugin started playing volleyball in fourth grade and has always received encouragement from her family, especially her mom who even coached her for a while.

“I have been playing volleyball since fourth grade,” Kalugin said. “My family has always encouraged my volleyball playing. My mom played volleyball in high school and has always helped me improve my skills. She also was my coach for three years in elementary and junior high.”

Sophia shares volleyball with her mom, Caroline Kalugin. Caroline competed in high school as well and would share her experiences with her daughter. When Sophia was younger they would attend local games, which helped grow her interest in the sport.

“Volleyball was one of my favorite memories from high school and I talked about it a lot with Sophia and told her stories of my experiences,” Caroline said. “When she was younger we went to local college and high school games and I think that helped spark her interest in the sport. She has always loved sports and being active. Volleyball was a sport we enjoyed playing together and so when had the opportunity to play at school she joined right in.”

Caroline reminisces on the years she coached Sophia; she loved getting to work with the team and create memories. Caroline believes volleyball has taught her daughter to create goals for herself and take measures to reach them.

“The opportunity to coach Sophia’s elementary and junior high team was a blessing,” Caroline said. “I loved getting to share my favorite sport with Sophia and her teammates. The girls were so fun to work with and we have lots of fun memories of those years. She has learned to set goals for herself, and then take active steps to reach those goals. She has a lot of perseverance and determination that has come from her experiences playing volleyball.”

Kalugin believes volleyball has taught her a lot about trust, working with and communicating well with others, due to there being such few people on the court at a time. 

“Volleyball has taught me to work as a team and stay humble,” Kalugin said. “With only six people on the court, it takes a lot of trust and communication to execute our plays to the best of our ability.”

Having to work so closely with her teammates helps create wonderful friendships.

“I have found some of the best friendships from volleyball,” Kalugin said. “As I mentioned earlier you have to trust your team, and you can’t trust someone without getting to know them. If it wasn’t for volleyball, then I wouldn’t have gotten close with one of my best friends, Julia (Fikse). Volleyball has provided me with so many friendships that have helped me throughout high school.”

Coach, Kit Maddox, notices the fact that there are five seniors on the varsity team this year and recognizes they know how the game works. Maddox’s past in professional volleyball allows him to know what playing at the next level means for the girls.

Courtesy of Sophia Kalugin

Senior Kaylie Clem, left, and Kalugin pose during a volleyball clinic in sixth grade.

“Having 5 members that are seniors adds a lot of maturity to the program,” Maddox said. “They know the processes and how things work on the volleyball court. It makes the team mentally strong and keeps a good sense of balance on the court. Professional volleyball taught me so much. I am able to use a ton of the drills I learned through the years, but also just having an awareness of what the next level looks like. I can push the girls because I know what is next.”

Maddox appreciates Kalugin’s positivity and how it rubs off on her fellow teammates, and the fact that her success in the two positions she plays is boosting the team to the next level.

“Sophia has brought great positivity and stability on the court,” Maddox said. “She works really hard and never gets down on herself. It starts to rub off on other players and brings a level of confidence that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens. She keeps a positive attitude always. So important for a player to do this when things are tough on the court. It allows her to bounce back well and get the next play. Sophia has been doing a wonderful job straddling 2 positions. She plays both Libero and Outside hitter for us. Sophia has been doing great at both positions and elevates the team to higher levels.”

Kalugin plays two different positions, she feels that both of them give her the opportunity to utilize her skills to the best of her ability.

“I play two positions on the team, I play outside hitter and libero,” Kalugin said. “Both of these positions incorporate what I do best on the court, which is usually passing and hitting.

One of Kalugin’s best friends and fellow teammate, Julia Fikse, ’20, appreciates the memories they have made in volleyball and how she always encourages her.

“Volleyball brought Sophia and I closer together as friends because we spent a lot of time together driving to games and being each other’s partners in drills,” Fikse said. “Sophia has helped me grow in m confidence by always encouraging me in games as well as at school. One of my favorite memories of high school is being Sophia’s teammate and best friends. We make so many memories together.”

Courtesy of Sophia Kalugin

Seniors varsity volleyball players from left to right: Kaylie Clem, Sophia Kalugin, Julia Fikse and Kamryn Schultz during their freshman year.

Due to having been playing the sport for so long, Kalugin has developed a true appreciation for the sport. With this being her last season, she is sad but content with how she will be ending her volleyball career and is looking forward to the future.

“After playing almost nine years of volleyball my appreciation for the sport has grown,” Kalugin said. “It’s the only sport that I can truly enjoy playing and if I make a mistake I can just laugh it off. Since this is my last volleyball season, I feel sad, but I also feel satisfied. I have learned so much from the sport, but I am ready for a new chapter in my life that I can learn from. I hope that this season is truly fun and memorable, even if we lose a game, my goal is that the team will be able to move past that and just enjoy the sport.”

Kalugin has also participated in soccer and basketball throughout high school. After she graduates, Kalugin plans to attend a four-year college, and although she does not plan to play volleyball in college, she hopes to catch all the home games.

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This author can be reached via Twitter @toryntriplitt email Toryn Triplitt.

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