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Setting Up for Success

Posted 05/25/2016 by Cecelia Allen

Paula Mortel looks toward her future in volleyball. photo by Robert Sandoval

Paula Mortel plans to improve her volleyball skills while playing for college scouts this summer.

Junior and volleyball player Paula Mortel will be playing volleyball on a team in California this summer for a week, looking to improve her skills. Mortel has been playing since her freshman year, and has improved significantly over the past three years. Because of her improvement and club volleyball experience, Mortel will be able to get exposed to the collegiate level of volleyball.

Mortel started playing volleyball after watching her sister play varsity for TJ in previous years. “It just looked like a lot of fun and I wanted to follow in her footsteps,“ Mortel elaborated. After joining the team, she ended up loving the sport and played on varsity this year. “I love the fact that it’s a team sport, not an individual one. It creates great team bonding and it has opened many doors of opportunities for me. Also, it is just so fun and I love seeing improvement every time I practice and the overall competitiveness of this sport” explained Mortel. She’s looking forward to working with new coaches with a much broader experience.

Mortel was originally offered an opportunity to play for a team in Australia, however she chose to take the chance to play in California instead, “Australia was more of a vacation trip that did not mainly focus on improving my skills for the sport, so I thought the California trip would benefit me more,” she explained. The opportunity to play in California gives Mortel a chance to play in front of college scouts in order to seek scholarships and recruitment opportunity. Mortel plans on improving her weaknesses, while also performing at her best. She is excited to improve her skills as well as meet new people with similar mindsets and goals in volleyball.

This event is sponsored by Volleyball Factory, a volleyball program designed to help players get exposure to recruiters. Regional director of Under Armour National Tryouts Lauren Mrockza contacted Mortel about the opportunity, which was presented to her through her participation in club volleyball. “Around twenty girls get selected from each city the program visits for tryouts around the country,” added Mortel. She began playing club volleyball this year, however in years prior she took part in private lessons and camps with club teams. Currently, Mortel plays for The Edge Volleyball club.

The Volleyball Factory program focuses on several aspects. Coaches will work with players one-on-one to help them improve their skills, such as setting, blocking, digging, serving, and attacking. Coaches will create drills to help players strengthen their weaknesses and improve more upon their strengths in the sport. These adjustments are meant to help players be ready for their high school season, as well as collegiate level playing. Mortel enjoys both club volleyball and high school volleyball, however the environments are much different. “Club and varsity are both competitive environments. They both take hard work ethic because you have to balance time for school work, practices, and games. Club is more time consuming and you have to be more committed since you practice for longer hours and tournaments are almost every other weekend, sometimes even out of state,” she said.

Throughout the week, Mortel will be filmed during games. Theses videos will then be edited to show players performing at The Volleyball Factory Summer Program. In addition, coaches will create an informational page for each player with a written assessment, based on their performance during the week. Using this web page, players will then be able to send these videos to colleges.  Mortel hopes to play volleyball in college, saying, “Playing in college is a big dream of mine. I have been contacted by colleges already and I’m working hard to be able to get that opportunity.” The California trip will expose Mortel to college scouts, which will help her with her goal of playing in college. She wants to play in college because of the experience it will give her, in addition to her love for the sport. Mortel explained, “I’ve heard that a college volleyball career is challenging since you practice and train almost everyday, but that excites me. I think it would be such a cool opportunity to be able to keep playing especially at a more advanced level.” Mortel is looking at colleges in state such as Trinidad State and Northeastern Junior College, and out of state colleges such as Saint Mary’s University in Texas and University of La Verne in California.

Mortel is looking forward to improving her skills as well as applying them for the upcoming TJ season. This trip will benefit her in more than one way as she hopes to impress colleges with this experience and, in the future, hopefully receive a scholarship.