If you step into the classroom of Jessica Holtzclaw right now, you would see box upon box of beautifully wrapped Christmas gifts. Instead of feeling like you are inside a high school classroom, you would wonder if you had been magically transported to the North Pole, but elves did not make these presents–the hard work of a united volleyball team did.
While much of the Homestead community knows the girls’ volleyball team has recently won the sectional championship for the second year in a row, what most people do not know is what happens behind the scenes of these extraordinary plays. And while, of course, the girls practice often to improve their volleyball skills, they also participate in other events that set them apart from the average high school team.
The event responsible for all the boxes in Holtzclaw’s classroom is a fundraiser for families in need this holiday season.
“(A project) I have participated in on the volleyball team is giving Christmas gifts to a family in need,” Grace Mummert (12), a senior on the volleyball team, said about the boxes in Holtzclaw’s room. “My family and I bought items for those in need and bought wrapping paper and boxes and wrapped gifts to give to those who do not have as much during the holiday season.”
This project is also not the only way the volleyball team has worked to help others this year.
“We participated in the Riley Dance Marathon Giving Back Challenge this year and I absolutely loved it,” Anna Moster (12), another senior on the volleyball team, said. “As a team, we raised over $1,000 for the children at Riley Hospital.”
And these volleyball girls are not doing these projects because they have to. They genuinely care about making the world a better place.
“I was so happy to reach our goal (for the Riley Dance Marathon Giving Back Challenge),” Moster said. “This project meant a lot to me because I know people who are Riley kids and I love doing this stuff for Riley Hospital and giving back.”
Not only are each of the girls inspired by helping others, but the closeness of the team has helped create a dynamic that fosters this passion of theirs into a reality.
“These girls are all so sweet,” Mummert said in regards to her team, “and I can’t wait to see my fellow seniors’ plans for college next year and the impact the juniors and underclassmen will make at Homestead next year.”
Based on the outstanding volleyball skills, sportsmanship and sheer kindness of the girls on the volleyball team, it comes as no surprise that both Mummert and Moster have been recruited to play volleyball in college.
“I am signed to play Division 1 volleyball at Eastern Illinois University and I will study sports management or marketing,” Moster, who was also named an Indiana All-Star for her sport, said.
Mummert has achieved great success too and was recruited for a local school, which she is excited to play for next year.
“My plan for the future is to attend school at the University of Saint Francis and will be playing volleyball there,” Mummert said. “I am excited to make an impact on the team next year and am willing to work hard and show the team what I have to offer there, as I will once again be an underclassmen.”
Recently, both girls have made their commitments to their schools official, with the support of their team and families.
“My signing was awesome as I signed at my volleyball club, Empowered Sports Club, and was able to invite my friends, family, and teammates,” Mummert said. “More people came than I expected due to the pandemic. I was extremely blessed and grateful for the amazing support system I had that night.”
Moster also enjoyed her signing experience and the relief that came with it.
“The signing experience was amazing,” Moster said. “I have waited to sign to play at the next level since I started playing volleyball. With all the troubles with COVID and sports, I was so relieved to find a school that loved me as much as I love them and to sign there.”
While both girls are looking forward to their futures, they are also sad to leave behind their Homestead volleyball family.
“The thing I will miss most is definitely the girls and coaches,” Moster said. “They have been such awesome supporters and I have created so many memories with them so to not be able to compete with them anymore is definitely very sad.”
Next year, the volleyball team will be without Mummert and Moster, as well as fellow seniors Michelle Crockett, Samantha Florez, Mikayla Kelly and Emmalyn Meyer; however, Mummert and Moster are confident in the underclassmen.
“My advice to younger players is to have confidence in themselves and to continue to work hard no matter how tough school or the competition may get,” Mummert said. “I also want to remind them to have fun and enjoy this time they have with their friends, because it is short and goes by very fast.”