Mansfield Sports

Russian orphan finds home in Summit’s middle

Veronika Webb, born in Russia and adopted by Mansfield parents, is getting ready for her senior season with Summit volleyball.
Veronika Webb, born in Russia and adopted by Mansfield parents, is getting ready for her senior season with Summit volleyball. Courtesy Photo

It’s a long way from Russia, but Mansfield Summit volleyball’s Veronika Webb has found the middle of the net a very comfortable place to live.

The senior middle blocker is now looking forward to achieving a milestone stat as she helps the Lady Jaguars toward another district title.

And although she’s had great success, her road to Summit was a bit more complicated than most of her teammates.

At the age of 3, Webb was turned over to a hospital in Kirov, Russia by her birth mother and subsequently placed in an orphanage.

She was later adopted by Bobbi and Scott Webb and changed her last name from Shapkova. She also shares the same middle name of her adoptive mother, Joyce.

Thought was given to changing her first name to Sarah, but Webb said she’s happy with her unique Russian name of Veronika.

Webb said she has no real memory of her time in Russia.

“But I wish I did,” Webb said. “It was never a big thing to me to go back.”

As she gets older, though, Webb said she does give more consideration to visiting her birth country again and, if it’s possible, searching for her mother. Webb understands that her mother was too young to care for at the time.

She also has an older sibling, Alexei – or Alex – who was adopted by the Webbs at age 2 from Moscow. Alex was born to a different mother in Moscow and he is now at UT Arlington.

Webb had to learn English and remembers only about four Russian words – those for “Yes”, “No”, “Please” and “Thank you.”

“At 4, I was speaking about half-and-half Russian and English,” Webb said. “I didn’t speak it enough to maintain the language.”

Asked if she has studied Russian at school, Webb said she thought about it but was advised, “Who speaks Russian around here?”

Webb said she’s taken two Spanish courses to meet a foreign language requirement.

Now, Webb is a Texan with an interesting past and great future ahead of her. At 6-feet, Webb has become Summit’s leading blocker and tallied 81 last year.

Her goal this season is to register at least 100 blocks. The season record is 130 held by Jacque Allen, said head coach Linda Alfaro.

“I want to be the team blocks leader,” she said, “but I know that will come with a lot of hard work and discipline.”

With her height, Webb did try her hand at basketball, too, but admitted she just wasn’t very good.

Summit will launch its season soon and Webb expects her senior campaign to be as good as last year.

“I feel a little pressure as a senior,” she said, noting Summit has gone four rounds deep in the playoffs. “We want it to be as good as my other two years here. I don’t expect it to be just successful, but I want to have fun in my senior year.”

Along the way, Webb hopes to draw more of the attention from collegiate coaches which began in her sophomore year. She has narrowed her list to several schools but will make a decision later in the year, she said.

Summit will kick off next Tuesday at Arlington Bowie.