Red Storm standouts take games to higher level
Goodwin and Young are representing Scarborough High School on the Maine Juniors 18U National team, made up of some of the best volleyball players in the state.
“This is the team I have been looking up to all these years and to be on this team is insane,” said Goodwin, who has played on Maine Juniors Volleyball teams since seventh grade. Maine Juniors Volleyball, part of the Olympic pipeline, started 15 years ago and includes more than 200 athletes on 23 teams across several age groups.
“I wanted a challenge and wanted to be surrounded by players who play the game in a different way,” Young, a Maine Juniors Volleyball player for the last three seasons, said Feb. 7, prior to the Maine Juniors 18U Anniversary Tournament at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland.
The national team is so named because it travels the country playing in volleyball tournaments.
Head coach Andrew Pohl said 60 to 70 players tried out for the team, but only 10 were chosen, including Joselyn Moody, a Biddeford High School senior who won the 2015 Gatorade Maine Volleyball Player of the Year Award. Moody will be playing volleyball at Franklin Pierce College, a Division II school in New Hampshire, in the fall.
The goal of the Maine Juniors 18U National team, Pohl said, is to “have the girls compete on the highest level possible.”
“Like many club sports, the level that they compete at is so much higher than what they see in high school competition,” he noted. “Playing club volleyball is the best way for these girls to get recruited for college. Out-of-state recruiters aren’t likely to make a trip to Maine to look for athletes, so we take the athletes to where the recruiters are.”
The team, which opened its season at a tournament in Hartford, Connecticut, in mid-January, travels to Washington, D.C., this weekend and to a national tournament in Boston in late February before competing in regional tournaments in March and a national event in Chicago in late March. The season wraps up with the New England Region Volleyball Association championship in May. In previous years, the team has competed in an open tournament at the national championships in Orlando, Florida, in June, but Pohl has no plans to bring the team this year.
“I tell the girls all the time playing at a higher level is not about having better athletes. It is about making fewer errors,” Pohl said.
Young said the competition the team sees outside the state is much different than the level in Maine.
“Everything is much faster. They are hitting harder. The girls are taller, stronger,” Young said.
Getting this exposure bodes well not only for Goodwin and Young, but for the other Red Storm players, many who are on other Maine Juniors Volleyball teams.
“The faster pace makes us better athletes all around. Playing different athletes across the country is a great experience,” Goodwin said.
Although most of the Maine Juniors Volleyball 18U players were on different sides of the net during the high school season, they quickly have found rhythm as a team. The team traveled to Derry, New Hampshire, in late January to take part in the New England Region Volleyball Association’s 18s Open Qualifier where it finished fifth out of 64 teams, meaning it will enter the regional tournament in March as the fifth seed. It is the highest seed the team has had.
“We all knew each other already because volleyball in Maine is not a huge thing. It’s fun to be able to play with them on the same team,” Goodwin said.
Although the national team includes athletes from high schools in Biddeford, Falmouth, Gorham, Rockland, Sanford, Scarborough, Windham and Yarmouth this year, Pohl, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Gray, said Scarborough High School “has been a good feeder program for us.”
“They are quick and very coachable girls,” Pohl said of Goodwin and Young, who both play setter, a position that, much like a quarterback in football or point guard in basketball, sets up plays for the offense. “When you step outside your comfort level and the game becomes faster and a much higher level, especially with setters, there may be a lot of issues with ball calls, but we haven’t seen any of that with them. They have transitioned rapidly.”
While both Young and Goodwin have another year of high school volleyball, they are already thinking about volleyball after Scarborough High School.
“I have been going to showcases, getting my name out there, but I an not sure what I will do with volleyball (after high school),” Goodwin said.
Young would like to continue playing in college, even if it is not part of a formal college team.
“I know I want to play, at least at the club level, because volleyball is so much fun,” she said.
Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at email@example.com.