Emily Stockman is totally devoted to volleyball. Now that means a total devotion to the sand game.
Stockman, the 2008 Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year for Wichita State, finished the Association of Volleyball Professionals Pro Beach Tour last month. She and partner Traci Wearner split $5,000 in prize money after finishing tied for seventh in the 25-team field at the Huntington Beach Championships.
Stockman started the AVP tour unranked and playing in qualifiers to make the main draw. In early August, she and Wearner finished fifth in the Salt Lake City Open and earned $5,200. They entered the final event seeded No. 8.
“It really is my passion,” she said. “I love getting up every day and going to work, going to play volleyball. I feel like I’m in a place where God put me.”
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In past years, Stockman, who works as a personal trainer, went overseas to play indoor volleyball in the fall and winter. She played in France, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland. Not this year. She is staying with the sand game and will play five FIVB international tournaments this fall.
“I have big goals and dreams, Olympic aspirations,” she said. “Leaving for the winter is hurting me more than it’s helping me. Everyone says that on the beach you get better in the offseason. I haven’t had an offseason.”
The indoor and outdoor games are different and Stockman wants to avoid the adjustment period when she returns to the beach. The indoor game is faster. The ball used by the AVP is bigger and lighter. Playing in the sand requires an athlete to adjust to wind and sun.
“It’s two completely different games,” she said.
Stockman’s experience with U.S. women’s beach team — she played in the World University Games in Russia in 2013 — convinced her to shoot for the Olympics.
“I got to travel to Russia and Cuba; those are the stepping stones and I loved it,” she said. “I knew I could only get better from there. That’s what has really pushed me.”
Right choice for Taylor — Rivals.com national basketball recruiting analyst Eric Bossi works out of Kansas City, so he watched guard Tyrone Taylor grow up on the basketball court. Taylor, who is at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy, gave WSU a non-binding commitment a week ago.
Taylor (6-foot-3, 165 pounds) is a lefty who can score in many ways and plays with vigor on defense. Best of all, in Bossi’s mind, is the attitude he brings to the court.
“He’s one of those guys who plays with a chip on his shoulder and doesn’t back down,” Bossi said.
Taylor played at Grandview (Mo.) and earned All-Class 4 honors as a senior. He took a post-graduate year at Hargrave (the school that produced WSU freshman Rashard Kelly) to work on his body and his skills.
“That’s a win-win,” Bossi said. “At Hargrave, kids get stronger.”
Taylor, Bossi said, primarily scores on drives to the basket and with mid-range jumpers and floaters. He can make three-points efficiently enough to make defenses guard him.
“I call him more a streaky scorer than a pure shooter,” Bossi said. “He’s an aggressive, offensive-minded combo guard.”
His length and quickness make him a dangerous defensive player.
“He can move side to side and he can change direction,” Bossi said. “He does it all, and he gets to top speed quickly.”
Taylor is the second guard to commit to WSU, joining Landry Shamet of Park Hill (Mo.). Both plan to sign in November. Rivals.com ranks Taylor a three-star prospect. Shamet, who committed in September, is ranked No. 87 nationally by Rivals.com. Sunrise Christian Academy forward Eric Hamilton, placed there by WSU coaches after signing with the Shockers, has said he plans to again sign with WSU in November.
Cleaning up — WSU’s track and field team is lifting weights in improved conditions.
Assistant coaches John Hetzendorf and Pat Wilson built 14 wood-and-rubber lifting platforms. WSU fixed a drain outside the track weight room, located at the north end of Cessna Stadium, to stop flooding. New paint, Shocker logos on shiny wood and a clean floor make for a much more pleasant environment.
“On bad nights, when it was torrential rain, it flooded the entire room,” coach Steve Rainbolt said. “So our old platforms got moldy. Dirt and grim and everything came in here and we’d kind of brush it out. It was a mess.”
Rainbolt said WSU spent $3,000 to clean the floors and built the platforms with around $2,500 in materials donated by Star Lumber.
“The athletes are proud of it and I was really proud of, and appreciated, Hetzendorf and Pat Wilson, who built the platforms with their own hands,” Rainbolt said.
▪ Rainbolt is switching sports for his fundraising marathons.
On Oct. 15, he will play 57 holes at Willowbend Golf Club to celebrate his 57th birthday. He starts at 7:30 a.m. and estimates it will take him about 10 hours. He is taking pledges and for $250 a golfer can play nine holes. Shocker athletes will caddy.
For his 50th birthday, he ran 50 kilometers and did 55 on No. 55.
“Playing golf sounds a lot more fun than what I did,” he said.
He raised around $15,000 for his running events and hopes to hit around $25,000 this time. Rainbolt uses the money to boost his team’s travel budget. For information, visit goshockers.com or call Melissa Christensen at 906-251-0250.
▪ WSU assistant coach John Wise is sprinting for his fundraiser for the Shocker Track Club elite team. Wise, who coaches former college athletes for the club, will run a 300-meter sprint on Oct. 25 at Cessna Stadium. His goal is to break 40 seconds on his 40th birthday. Donations are accepted, including the chance to dump a bucket of ice water on him for $60. For information, visit shockertrackclub.com.
Fall ball and a party — WSU’s baseball team will start its best-of-3 fall scrimmage on Oct. 24 (2 p.m.) at Eck Stadium. The Shockers wrap up fall practices with a Halloween costume party on Oct. 30 (6 p.m.). In between, WSU plays on Oct. 25 (10 a.m.) and Oct. 26 (1 p.m.).
For the Halloween celebration, the players and coaches will dress in costume for a seven-inning game. Children under 12 in costume can run the bases after the game and WSU students can compete in a costume contest.
Admission to all four games is a can of food for the Kansas Food Bank.