Dedication earns local teen a big shot |

Dedication earns local teen a big shot

Volleyball has been Toni Gottschalck’s passion since seventh grade. Now, all the years of training and traveling back and forth to the Front Range to play for her club team is starting to reap benefits.Later this month, the Glenwood High sophomore-to-be will jump on a jet to Atlanta for a chance to play for a national championship.Gottschalck earned a spot on the Denver-based Front Range Volleyball Club’s 15-year-old White elite team based on her recent play at the AAU National Championships in Orlando with the club’s Mountain Division squad, followed by a successful tryout.

The Front Range Volleyball Club’s White elite team advanced to the 48-team, Girls 15 national tournament, to be held at the Georgia World Congress Center, June 29-July 2.While she’s excited about playing on the team, Gottschalck said the experience is also intimidating. “They have amazing players,” she said. “They run (plays) so much faster. It’s really entertaining, I’m excited to train with them.”Injuries to two of the elite team’s players opened the door for Gottschalck after training with the squad.”(Club) Director, Kay Rogness, told us he liked how we performed, so we got to train with the elite team,” Gottschalck explained. “Then they lost two of their players and the (team’s) coach Steve Huntingdale invited me and one of our setters (Kelsey Foster, Eagle Valley) to come and join them.”

Having played in a top-notch tournament in Orlando helps, yet Gottschalck expects a different environment in Atlanta from the one she went through last week. “I think it’s going to be more intense than Orlando because all these teams are at the same level,” she said. Things Gottschalck expects to be different in this tournament from the one she played in Florida are the vast number of courts, along with the limited amount of maneuverability she saw in Orlando.

“It’s a wild environment. It was hard to focus. There’s a court next to you. There’s a court behind you, there’s a court in front of you,” she recalled. “It was hard with all the noise, the families and college coaches there,” she said. You want to impress them. There was a lot of pressure.”Greater pressure, along with higher scrutiny, are items Gottschalck will see first hand in Atlanta. “There’s going to be a higher intensity (at nationals),” she said. “There’s going to be more college coaches there. So there’s going to be more pressure.”With the ultimate goal of winning a national championship, Gottschalck hopes to make a contribution toward that aim. “I want to say that I’ve done my best,” she said. “If I get to play, I want to say that I went in there and did my job – I learned, I helped and I scored some points.”

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