KELLY COLLIGAN PHOTO | The Shelter Island varsity volleyball team after winning first place in the Silver Bracket of the Eastport-South Manor invitational tournament last September. Kelsey McGayhey and Haley Willumsen, now college players, are in front row, center and right.
Along with packing clothes, laundry detergent, posters and pencil sharpeners, some recent Shelter Island High School graduates also have to pack spandex shorts and extra gym socks. Hope Kanarvogel, Stephanie Vecchio, Kelsey McGayhey and Haley Willumsen have all been named to their college volleyball teams for the upcoming fall season.
Kanarvogel (SIHS ’09) has been a four-year player for Unity College in southeastern Maine and has been named one of the captains for the 2012 campaign.
Among her duties has been helping the incoming freshmen players move into their dorms and get them acclimated to college life, a life that sometimes includes twice-a-day two-hour practice sessions for the first week.
“Our first week of two-a-days went so well it made me so excited for the season to get underway,” said Kanarvogel, a senior libero, when asked how her first week was progressing. “I want to make sure my team pushes themselves for their sake and the team’s, to enjoy the sport and, most importantly, to have fun.”
Vecchio (SIHS ’11) returns for her sophomore season at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire. The Chargers return the entire roster from last year’s North Atlantic Conference championship squad and have high aspirations for the upcoming season. Asked about having the same team around her, Vecchio commented, “I’m looking forward to another great season with these girls” and added “we have a lot of time to grow stronger.”
Kelsey McGayhey (SIHS ’12) joins one of the top Division III programs in the nation at Springfield College in Massachusetts. Last year’s team reached the Elite 8 of the D3 Championships and Coach Moira Long has been scouring high schools across the nation to add depth to her roster.
Speaking to potential recruits in Springfield last spring, Coach Long made special note of the high level of players that have been coming out of eastern Long Island high schools. Springfield, long known for its overall commitment to collegiate athletics, also fields a junior varsity level squad in addition to varsity.
McGayhey has also been participating in three-a-day practices and joined her teammates for a canoe trip to help build team unity.
“With a lot of ice baths and frequent visits to the athletic trainer, I’m no longer sore … I have fallen in love with volleyball all over again,” McGayhey said.
Haley Willumsen (SIHS ’12) has been named the freshman setter for the Keene State College Owls in New Hampshire. Coach Bob Weiner has a very young team but hopes to repeat his 2008 success, when he took an extremely green squad and led them to the Little East Conference championship.
Willumsen credits her time spent playing with the Long Island Fury club team for getting her prepared for the next level. Keene State competed in a scrimmage tournament this past Saturday and finished the day with a 5-1-1 record, the single loss coming in a close contest against D2 St. Anselm.
“We played better than I expected,” Willumsen commented, “and we are still a work in progress.”
Perhaps the most interesting part of having all these former Indians standouts playing in college is the possibility for them of seeing familiar faces from home on the other side of the net.
Springfield, Colby-Sawyer and Keene State are all scheduled to face each other at least once during the season. Asked about facing Willumsen and McGayhey, Vecchio commented, “I can’t wait to play against past teammates. It gets your adrenaline pumping even faster because you want to show them up and come out with the win but I also love being able to just see them as friends and not as competitors.”
Anyone with Internet access can watch the Shelter Island girls on a computer. For more information on schedules or webcasts, visit the respective school’s website and link to the athletics heading. Click on “women’s volleyball” and follow the prompts to “watch live.”
Look for updates on the girls throughout the fall in the sports section of the Reporter.