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Parade of honors continues for Huskies

CVR BM State Champs SM 11-11-06
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EAGLE-VAIL – Battle Mountain volleyball’s state-championship trophy is on display at the school. The league and state banners have been taken down from the walls of the gym for their necessary alterations. And it is finally sinking in for the members of the 2006 Battle Mountain volleyball team that they, indeed, did win the 4A state title a little less than three months ago. “Sometimes you do think back to that memory. ‘Did that really happen or was that in my dreams?’ It’s a really great memory,” middle blocker Nicole Penwill said. “When I will think back to high school of what my best moment was, that’s it. It was so much fun and so rewarding.”Just in case the Huskies are still a little dreamy-eyed, the honors keep coming in for these ladies. The spikers, along with their fellow fall state champs, the boys’ cross country team, will be feted by Eagle County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.Setter Britney Brown, newly-minted to the Prep Volleyball All-American Team, will be there. Outside hitters Sofia Lindroth and Crystin Rodrick will not, but they have good excuses. Lindroth is off to Europe to compete for the Swedish National Junior Team, and Rodrick, having graduated early from Battle Mountain, has classes at Colorado State.And this is all after a slew of awards from the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. Brian Doyon was named 4A Coach of the Year by both papers, and Brown earned All-Colorado honors from the latter. In all, Brown, Rodrick, Lindroth, Nicole Penwill and Devon Abbott earned all-state honors of some form from both papers.”I think it just shows how much our success was a collaborative effort,” Penwill said. “Five girls won those awards which are huge awards. But past that, there are so many more girls on our team who were part of the effort. It just reflects the whole program.”Yes, hard work, a 30-1 record and a state title will do that, but then there’s another theory offered by Rodrick.”Remember how last year when we took third, I told you it would be nice if we got a couple more players on (the all-state roll),” she said. “Well, we did. I told you. I’m psychic, you know.”

What Huskies fans – both those in Eagle-Vail and at Northeastern – have known for a while the Front Range discovered recently. By being named to the Rocky’s All-Colorado Team, Brown is now one of the best volleyball players in the state regardless of classification – from 1A Kit Carson to 5A Eaglecrest. She’s the first from Battle Mountain to be so honored since a pair of Huskies hockey players got the nod in 2004.”After we won state, I remembered Austin Chow and Brad Myers winning All-Colorado two years ago,” Brown said. “When I got it, it was such an amazing feeling.”Amazement has turned into mathematical wonder. About 400,000 young ladies play high school volleyball in the country. Only 150 make the Prep Volleyball All-American Team.Welcome to a very select 150, Britney.”It’s a big number,” Brown said with a laugh. “At first, I thought it was out of 14,000. That’s still huge, but you hear 400,000. It’s crazy to think you’re in the top 150 who made it. It’s overwhelming.”

Lindroth is off to Spain on Monday. This isn’t early form of spring break, however. She’s meeting up with her teammates on the Swedish National Junior Volleyball Team for a week of scrimmages against their Spanish counterparts. Lindroth, who was born in Sweden and has dual citizenship, went to a camp at CSU last year when she met a Danish coach who happened to be Swedish.”We spoke in Swedish for a little bit and he saw me play,” Lindroth said. “I ended up sending him videos and stuff and it just worked out. Small world, I guess.”This will not be Lindroth’s only trip to the Continent before enrolling at James Madison University in Virginia. In July, she’s off to Sweden for more practice and then France for a world juniors tournament.”I definitely wouldn’t have ever expected something like this, that this opportunity could happen to me,” Lindroth said. “I’m just really excited to represent a country and play against other countries in Europe. It’s going to be an amazing experience.”



Rodrick is already gone. More accurately, she graduated early from Battle Mountain in December, and has started classes as a freshman at Colorado State.Rodrick has participated in her first team practice already and is doing individual practices, not to mention some serious weight lifting and conditioning, in addition to hitting the books.”It’s awesome. I feel really comfortable with this team,” she said. “It’s definitely a lot faster. You didn’t really get that in high school. It’s pretty intense. If you just stick with it, it’s a really good opportunity.”It’s also a change for Rodrick. Huskies fans are used to seeing No. 7 wind up as an outside hitter – especially on the right side. No more. She’s going to be a defensive specialist with some time at backup setter for the Rams.”It’s different because I definitely miss hitting,” Rodrick said. “But at the same time, I’m working at something I’m better at. I’m only 5-foot-7. There’s only so much I can do with hitting. I’m a much better defensive player. But at the same time, it would be fun to go into a practice and hit a few balls.”

Penwill is bound for Washington University in St. Louis. “I’m really excited,” she said. “Just what I’ve seen from that volleyball program, it’s a super-passionate team, a super-passionate coach. Even though it’s labeled D-III, the people don’t fit that stereotype at all. The team totally impresses me.”It should. Division III or not, the Bears finished second last fall in the NCAA finals. Penwill, an aspiring medical student, will likely not make the varsity squad her freshman year.That’s not a problem, though. She is playing with Brown and Lindroth on the Colorado Performance 18 Red club team, going down to Denver three times per week for practice, not to mention assorted journeys to tournaments.For the three plus Abbott, who plays for Colorado Performance 17 Red, club play is another level. The Red 18 team features three outside hitters, four middles and three setters competing for playing time, just within the team.”We’re all going to play in college, so we really want to keep practicing, improving our technique, our teams skills, all those little things that we need to work on,” Penwill said. “When you go to a tournament, every single team has a really competitive team. Every single game is a good one and you get better.”



While the Brown, Lindroth, Rodrick and Penwill will be at college next year, Abbott, a junior, returns to Eagle-Vail. Abbot proved herself to be no shrinking violet at the state tournament last year.All she did was turn in likely her best high school performance in the team’s biggest game of the tournament against Sterling. While Doyon nonchalantly said at the time, “I’ve seen her play like that lots. That’s why she’s there,” Abbott continues to hone her craft at the club level.She’s starting get some nibbles from colleges, but she’s focused on one more run with Battle Mountain.”I know we have a lot of returning juniors like Jen (Thul) and Alexa (Corcoran) and Kendra (Havlik) who are all playing club and doing great,” Abbott said. “Everyone’s working really hard. With a little bit of work, we can do it. We won’t have the expectations we had this year, which might be a positive. I think we can do well.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.All-state HuskiesThe Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News (RMN) had a distinct black and gold tint to their all-state teams. The following are the Huskies so honored:Devon AbbottPost and RMN 4A honorable mentionBritney BrownRMN All-Colorado, RMN 4A Player of the Year. Post and RMN 4A first teamSofia Lindroth

RMN 4A first team, Post 4A second teamNicole PenwillPost and RMN 4A second team Crystin RodrickPost and RMN 4A first teamBrian DoyonPost and RMN 4A Coach of the Year


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