Fornadel pursues varsity volleyball in junior year 


Infographic by Maya Waid

In 2019, Fornadel suffered from a torn meniscus and ACL. Over the past two years Fornadel has been through an extensive recovery process in order to be cleared to play again.

Maya Waid, Editor-in-Chief

Similar to many others, junior Abigail Fornadel has been itching to get back to sports. With the cancelation of the 2020 soccer season and the 2020-2021 indoor track season, Fornadel has relied solely on travel teams and recreation leagues to keep her busy. When HHS announced that the school would participate in the fall sports season, Fornadel made the decision to go out for the volleyball team, a sport that she has not played since eighth grade. 

I decided to play volleyball this year because I am not currently in season for soccer or track. In previous years my club soccer season and volleyball season have overlapped, so I haven’t been able to play. This year has been really weird, so I thought I might as well try something new,” Fornadel said. 

Fornadel made initial contact with head varsity coach Hannah Bowman just two weeks before the start of tryouts. Although she had not played in a while, Bowman was confident Fornadel could pick up the sport. In her four weeks on the team, Bowman has already noticed Fornadel’s commitment to the team. 

“[Abby] brings a level of hard work and desire to improve to practice. Already, she has picked up volleyball schemes and has given players advice on the court. She is always positive, which is an important role to have on any team,” Bowman said. “She is incredibly willing to learn and hard working. She always has a smile on her face, and she takes instruction really well. She has improved very quickly. even in four weeks.”

While it may seem daunting to pick up a sport as junior, Fornadel has felt welcomed and comfortable with her teammates even after such a short period of time. 

“I’ve had a really good experience so far. The team is very encouraging and I’m starting to really enjoy playing the sport. I never dread going to practice and it’s exciting to learn new skills everyday,” Fornadel said. 

Fornadel’s primary sports include both soccer and indoor track, neither of which require as much hand-eye coordination. Therefore, when Fornadel began playing volleyball, she faced the challenge of both learning the game and adjusting to the speed of the varsity level. 

“My biggest challenge has been knowing the game. I haven’t played or watched much volleyball since eighth grade, so it has been a big learning curve. I’ve had to learn the rules of the game and most importantly the positioning. I’ve learned a lot so far, and I keep learning more and more about the sport every time I play,” Fornadel said. “I didn’t expect how fast the game would move. After one team scores a point, the next ball is already in the air. It’s just a lot faster than I had expected.”

In addition to the differences in the game itself, Fornadel has also found that soccer and volleyball each involve different physical requirements and even have vastly different team dynamics. 

“Volleyball is very different from both soccer and track. There isn’t as much running in volleyball as there is in my other sports, which I’m grateful for. Volleyball also has a very different team dynamic then soccer. Coach Bowman is very involved with the team, and she cares a lot about how we improve as a team,” Fornadel said. 

In Bowman’s opinion though, one of the hardest aspects of the game is adjusting to knowing that you will constantly be relying on your teammates in order to be successful. 

“I think the most challenging thing about volleyball is the level of teamwork required. [Due to] the nature of the sport, you have to have a good all-around team; there is no way to have one standout carry your entire team. You depend on each other in volleyball, which makes it about fun and challenging,” Bowman said.

Fornadel has experienced a learning curve with the new sport, and finds successes on the team to be rewarding.

“The most rewarding part of playing is doing something the right way. Since this is a newer sport for me, it’s really exciting when I make a good pass or serve the ball over the net,” Fornadel said.

Despite facing the challenges of learning a new sport at age 17, Fornadel has been grateful for the constant support of her teammates and the little things the team does to keep her encouraged throughout the season. 

“Coach Bowman has been so helpful and encouraging. She always seems to notice when I am confused or lost and lets me know what I am supposed to be doing. The girls have been really great as well,” Fornadel said. “Dani [Medhin] has really helped me work on my serving and Amelia [Mitchell] gives me pointers on how to get better and how to fix something after I do it wrong. The girls are so helpful and welcoming, it’s made starting a new sport really exciting and enjoyable.”

In the near future, Bowman has high hopes for both Fornadel and the team collectively as they continue their 2021 season. 

“I hope for Abby to feel confident on the court about where she is supposed to be and improve her knowledge of the game,” Bowman said. “My goal for this season is that we all continue to improve both as volleyball players and as people off the court.”

While she is unsure that she will play the sport again next year, Fornadel is hopeful that she will also continue to gain knowledge of the sport in her time on the team. 

“Some of my specific goals for this season are to learn/know the game well, to get better at serving, and to just improve as a player,” Fornadel said. “Moving forward with the sport in general I hope to get better as a player and to become a strong player for our varsity volleyball team.” 

While it was nerve wracking initially, Fornadel now knows that by stepping out of her comfort zone she was able to find a new team and sport to enjoy in a time of uncertainty surrounding most school activities.

“The advice I would give to someone considering starting a sport late in their high school career would be to just go for it. It’s so much fun and I’m so glad I decided to play,” Fornadel said.

Both Fornadel and Bowman strongly recommend that athletes pursue their interests in a sport, even if they have little to no experience.

“I would let them know that they have to be really willing to learn and to feel behind for a little while. Just because you started late doesn’t mean you can’t get better, as long as you’re willing to work hard and learn from your coaches and your teammates,” Bowman said.

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