As a result, players such as Cass’s Brooklyn Whitener have to work twice as hard once they get into high school to make up for their late introduction into the sport.
Fortunately for Cass, Whitener made tremendous progress over her four years and, as a result, signed Monday to play volleyball for the Andrew College Fighting Tigers.
“She molded herself into a volleyball player in four years,” Whitener’s former coach Jamie Horton said. “That’s a tough thing, to catch up after not playing at all.”
Andrew College is in Cuthbert and is a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association. It plays in-conference for the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association.
Whitener was named to the all-county team this past season and was a three-year varsity player for the Lady Colonels.
“She was a weapon,” Horton said of his former outside hitter. “We would set the ball outside and she would get us point after point.”
One of the reasons Whitener believes she developed so quickly is her participation in club volleyball.
“I played club four years of high school and that helped my game tremendously,” Whitener said. “I played a lot then, which made up for not playing before high school.”
“She can hit the ball. She knows how to time her jump and she knows where to go with it,” Horton said. “She played club, so she played enough to develop that.”
Cass made the state volleyball playoffs for the first time in five years and Whitener was a big reason why.
She chose Andrew College over Tennessee Temple University.
“I was looking for a Christian-based, small college and it just worked out perfectly,” Whitener said. “I love the coach [Lisa O’Connor]. She is awesome. She’s a good motivator. She said she was really looking forward to coaching me and pushing me to different levels in volleyball.”
Even after the late start, Whitener’s family knew she would have the opportunity to play in college early into her playing career.
“Probably 10th grade year, she started getting a lot of looks from a lot of different colleges,” Whitener’s mother, Robbie Whitener said. “It was very exciting that people were looking at her to go to college. So this is when she started to get a little more serious and a little more focused.
“I’m extremely proud of her accomplishments, not only on the court, but off the court. She’s just a really good girl and I’m very excited for her.”
Whitener hopes to have similar success at the next level as she had at Cass.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” Whitener said. “I guess when I go to college and put my stuff in my dorm, it’s going to hit me and I might get nervous. Right now, I’m just excited for it.”