Sophomore and varsity player Heather Ellison is “every coach’s dream,” Foothill Technology High School girls’ volleyball Coach Chip Tarleton said.
“She is attentive. She’s competitive. She wants to get better and understands that it takes hard work to have that opportunity,” Tarleton said.
Ellison played soccer and ice skated but settled on volleyball in fourth grade because she “wanted to follow in her [sister’s] footsteps.”
She has played volleyball for Balboa Middle School, Rincon Volleyball Club and Rise Volleyball Club, and is currently playing for Foothill as the outside hitter and all-around position.
Tarleton believes that Ellison stands out as a player because she is a “natural leader” and a “fighter.”
“She understands what I’m trying to develop for this program, she buys into it, believes it and tries to help all the other players in the program understand it and help promote it,” Tarleton said.
Varsity player and junior Kasie Spencer sees Ellison as a “leader” and “looks to Ellison” to find things that can help her in her playing.
“I like how she is loud on and off the court, and how aggressive she is when she plays. She is always trying her hardest and wants to get better every time she touches the ball,” Spencer said.
Sophomore and varsity player Taryn Savard looks up to Ellison because “she is a really good and dedicated volleyball player.”
“She kind of taught me to trust other people on the court and that if you aren’t confident in yourself then you can’t really play the mental aspect of volleyball,” Savard said.
Savard and Ellison met through club volleyball and became “best friends.”
Ellison’s favorite part about playing volleyball is “the friendships that come from it and just winning and having great bonds with everybody.”
“It’s very hard to take [Ellison] away from [volleyball but] besides volleyball we like to mess around basically and hang out with our friends, go shopping and swimming,” Savard said.
Tarleton believes that Ellison works well with the team as shown through her “actions on the court, in practice, in games, [and] at gatherings with the team.”
Although Ellison portrays “great leadership” skills, she has weaknesses of her own.
“Sometimes, not often, she beats herself up a little too much when she doesn’t perform up to her expectations,” Tarleton said.
However, Tarleton thinks that she is able to compensate for her mistakes because “she acknowledges it when she does have a bad period, and doesn’t blame anyone else.”
“Even if she has trouble trying new things, I describe and demonstrate what I would like her to do then she will look me in the eye, say, ‘Yes sir,’ and immediately try [to] do exactly what I’ve asked her to do until she gets it right,” Tarleton said.
Ellison feels that Tarleton has taught her how to “communicate,” “trust,” “read the ball” and “how to hit in different positions.”
She hopes to further her volleyball career by playing for Point Loma Nazarene University and “hopefully” compete in the Olympics.
Tarleton looks forward to working with Ellison and her teammates throughout the rest of their Foothill volleyball careers.
“It has, and will continue to be, one of the best coaching experiences of my career to continue to work with her, and her teammates, to establish lasting traditions [here] at Foothill,” Tarleton said.
Featured Photo Credit: Grace Carey/The Foothill Dragon Press