Caitlyn Shank began playing volleyball in the fifth grade, and has had a passion for the sport ever since. Now a senior at Rosary Academy, the middle blocker and outside hitter for the Royals is drawn to the team aspect of the sport.
“I really love the fact that it’s a team sport,” says Shank. “Every single point, we all gather in the middle and help each other out.”
Last season was her first as a varsity player, and with only one year of club experience, Shank has made a definite impression on her teammates and coaches.
“Caitlyn is a great athlete blessed with great athletic ability, and she has grown tremendously in the game of volleyball,” says Rosary head volleyball coach, Filip Tomicic. “She will be one of our key players this season, and her leadership is noticeable. Encouraging others and putting self second is the goal of this year’s program, and she is doing a tremendous job at it.”
Even with just a single year as a club player, Shank recognizes the pride behind representing her high school as a student athlete.
“Playing for Rosary, it’s a lot different than playing for a club team,” says the Fullerton resident. “There’s something about just playing with the school name on your jersey every game, and playing with your Royals sisters…it just gives you a lot of pride and something to really work for.”
Having previously battled a knee injury, Shank knows how important it is to have the support of family, friends and teammates.
“I think one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from volleyball is that it’s such a mental sport,” says the 17-year-old. “It’s really important to be there for your other teammates, especially if they make a mistake. I use that every day in my life with my friends and them reciprocating back their support to me.”
Away from the court, Shank is active in serving the special needs community by volunteering her time each week at the Down Syndrome Foundation in Irvine. With the vision of “effective education and community inclusion for people with Down syndrome,” Shank works with kids ages 5-18 to help strengthen their education skills.
The ups and downs of a volleyball match are tempered in part by Shank’s faith and knowing where to turn for strength.
“My faith plays such an important role in my life,” says Shank. “You’re not going to win every single game. Sometimes we look to God for strength to get us through a game, even when [we’re] losing. It plays a big role in everything we do.”
Shank is hoping to continue playing volleyball in college as well as study pre-med. Her older sister, Caroline, is her strongest influence and inspiration.
“Everything I do, I have to thank her for,” says Shank. “I am who I am because of her.”