Meet your student-athlete: Eagle Valley’s Claire Whelan |

Meet your student-athlete: Eagle Valley’s Claire Whelan

New rule: No running into your setter

Claire Whelan, senior, Eagle Valley volleyball

Editor’s note: Our weekly spotlights are arranged roughly a week before publication. The Vail Daily set up the interview with Claire Whelan before Eagle Valley volleyball went into quarantine for COVID-19. The interview itself was conducted by phone, so that no actual volleyball players or sports writers were harmed in the process.

Eagle Valley’s Claire Wheelan is in to everything from riding horses to taking a course in school called medical interventions, where she’s learning about helping people overcome medical obstacles with technology — from fitting people with simpler things like contact lenses or prostheses for veterans.

By the way, Miss Wheelan likes her science. Because the medical interventions course isn’t enough, she’s also taking physics. When allowed during her academic tenure in Gypsum, she’s taken two science classes per year because she envisions going to medical school and becoming a pediatrician or a family doctor.

By the way, Whelan’s a darn good middle-blocker for the Eagle Valley who is tied for the league lead with Palisade.

For more on why Whelan picks up rocks, roots for Kentucky and is really trying to avoid teammates Avery VanGoey and C.J. Yurcak, read on:

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Birthday: July 22, 2003.

Parents: Bill and Dana Whelan.

Sibling: Caitliyn, 14, Eagle Valley frosh.

So you live on a ranch? “It’s kind of a family-created ranch when we moved out here. We’ve got some land, three horse and some chickens. You do a lot of projects like picking up rocks in the field. I guess you can call it a ranch.”

Why are you picking up rocks? “So the hay can grow.” (This is why the writer does sports. The closest to a farm he’s ever been is a zoo.)

What’s the best thing about riding a horse? “The best thing is when you get out into an open space and let a horse stretch out its legs and run. It’s a different rhythm than a walk or a trot.”

OK, quick reaction to quarantine: “As a team we’re doing our best to stay healthy. [Devils coach Mike] Garvey has done excellent job preparing for something like this. We’re using this time to reset and get ready to play.”

What’s cool about volleyball? “My favorite thing about the sport is how much of a team sport it is. Every point, everyone has to contribute. Not a single point is won with one player. Everyone has to work together.”

What the goal to the season? “I think as a team our main goal is to reach our peak potential. We’ll go as far as we can take ourselves. It’s just going to be a matter of maxing our skill and ability to do the work.”

Best moment in volleyball: “The best moment volleyball is when the team can come together and be proud of how we played.

Most embarrassing moment(s): “Probably as a middle, the biggest thing is that you have to stay out of the way. The worst thing is to run into your setter, but it’s definitely a once-or-twice-a-season event.” (Apologies to Avery and C.J.)

What’s Mike Garvey like as a coach: “Mike is honestly one of my favorite coaches I’ve ever had. He’s very professional. He’s also wonderfully good at being sensitive to people’s emotions at the time we’re living in right now. He always has something important to say. There’s so much you can learn from him.”

Favorite subject: Science, taking medical intervention and physics.

Career plans: Medical school.

Favorite food: Pasta.

Favorite fruit: Kiwi.

Favorite drink: Water.

Favorite pizza slice: Green pepers and black olives.

Favorite teams to watch: “I’m a big Kentucky fan. I probably shouldn’t admit that this year. … My dad and his brothers went to Kentucky and my dad’s uncle coached track there. … I watch a lot of Kentucky volleyball.”

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? “I actually just had this conversation. I would like to be an Aspen tree. I like the noise when the wind goes through the leaves.”

You really just had that conversation? “My friends and I were joking around.”

Do you ski/snowboard? “Before we lived here, my family lived in Texas. We probably skied more when we lived in Texas.”

COVID is over. You can travel anywhere in the world. Where do you go? Greece.

If you were ruler of the world for one day, what would you do? “I would have everyone go out and take trash out of the ocean. If had everyone do that, it would make a big difference.”

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