One of the top volleyball players in Texas helped her club team capture a national title this summer in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. But Arlington High senior Katie Clark will have to book a return trip to Minneapolis some time to say she’s really seen Minnesota.
That’s because it was all business for Clark and her Carrollton-based Texas Advantage Volleyball 17 Black squad, which defeated a team from Austin to win the highest-level open division of the USA Volleyball Girls Summer Junior National Championships.
“We had a really strict coach, so we just played volleyball all time,” Clark said of the tournament. “And if we weren’t playing volleyball, we were in meetings. And if we weren’t in meetings, we were eating. And if we weren’t eating, we were sleeping.”
Never miss a local story.
There’ll be time for tourism later. At least she has a little time to savor being named an all-tournament selection and winning a championship. “It was really exciting to accomplish what was our biggest goal coming into the year,” Clark said.
Now back home, Clark’s already begun shifting her focus to trying to lead the Lady Colts to success in her final high school season. The utility player — “She is going to play wherever the best hitter is on the other side,” said Arlington coach Kim Spencer — and TCU commit was named to the Texas Sports Writers Association all-state team as a junior. But Arlington lost to Keller in the first round of the playoffs.
Bigger things are in the cards for the Lady Colts this season, Clark predicts. “I would say my focus is to have fun and do the best we can and work toward a goal together,” said Clark, who is one of seven seniors on the squad. Arlington also boasts a third-year varsity player in junior middle blocker Maddy Knott. Like Clark, Knott has started since her freshman season.
As an individual, I want to learn to take charge of the game better and just be that person everybody wants to work with and feed off the energy.
Even with experienced players around her, the expectations for Clark are as enormous as her ability to make a game-clinching kill. “You put a lot of trust in her,” Spencer said. “She knows the game. Everybody looks up to her, too. There’s a lot on her shoulders. I tell her every single year, ‘You’ve got to play to the best of your ability because everybody else is going to follow.’”
Senior setter Ashley Simpson said Clark is an easy leader to follow. “Katie always works hard,” Simpson said. “She’s a very good communicator. She makes my job easier.”
Clark and Simpson communicate a lot in-game to make sure Simpson is setting the ball in the right spot or in the right manner for Clark and the other hitters. “She just tells me how she likes the sets: higher, lower, faster,” Simpson said. “That way I know exactly what she needs.”
Clark considers herself a vocal presence on the court, but she feels she’s not a finished product yet as a leader or a player. And that’s a good sign for Arlington.
“I’ve really grown into the game, but I still have a lot of learning to do anyway,” Clark said. “As an individual, I want to learn to take charge of the game better and just be that person everybody wants to work with and feed off the energy. As a team, I want to work together and be on the same page with everyone and have fun together.”
Turns out, maybe there is time for both fun and playing winning volleyball.
E-bikes coming to River Legacy Park
The Arlington Parks and Recreation Department has allowed Adventure Electric Bicycles, an Arlington company, to install an electronic bike rental kiosk at River Legacy Parks, 701 Northwest Green Oaks Blvd.
The kiosk will be in place in late summer, according to a parks and recreation news release. Location and pricing are to be announced.
Riders are still required to pedal e-bikes, but an electric motor provides as much as 90 percent of the power needed for propulsion.
Stephen English: firstname.lastname@example.org, @sbenglish74