GLADE SPRING, Va. (WJHL) — In our digital series ‘High School Standouts,’ Digital Sports Reporter Michael Epps features local athletes with incredible talent, hoping to take that talent to the next level.
These are athletes that stand out both on and off the field.
This week’s High School Standout is Ella Maiden, a senior volleyball and track & field athlete at Patrick Henry High School.
The sports calendar is all out of whack this year in Virginia.
“We’re all thrown together like ok let’s see what we can do so it was a little crazy,” Ella Maiden said.
Patrick Henry high school volleyball and track & field star Ella Maiden is still trying to figure it all out.
“It is definitely weird like on Saturday I watched the football game in the spring and it was sunny and warm so that was kinda interesting and then with volleyball right now normally I would be getting ready for track right now so that’s definitely different,” Maiden said.
Playing volleyball in the springtime is just strange, but they had to accept it when the VHSL moved fall sports to the spring.
“It was terrible I mean it was hard I can’t imagine how hard it was on the girls and not just volleyball girls but athletes in Virginia period it was just difficult,” Patrick Henry head volleyball coach Pam Newberry said.
“It’s pretty crazy because most of the time we have all summer to prepare and get reps in get everyone situated whereas we had 10 practices before our first game,” Maiden said.
But their mindset was to be glad that they get to play.
“We are all just so incredibly thankful that we have a season like it was so hard watching Tennessee last fall have regular season games and they had 20 something game and we have 12,” Maiden said.
With a shorter schedule, they had to start building that team chemistry quicker; Ella has been huge with that, being a senior captain.
“All of us are starting to connect really well it has not been easy but it’s been really nice knowing we’ve all known each other for several years and we’ve been playing for so long,” Maiden said.
It’s also a plus for Ella to have her younger sister Avery on the team too.
“It’s honestly really fun because we’re already really close anyway and playing together makes us even more close because you go through the ups and downs,” sophomore Avery Maiden said.
“Avery has really matured from her freshman year when we had to throw her in the fire and she stepped up and had a fantastic year but now that she’s matured a little but and they really going to experience it,” Newberry said.
“Girls look up to the seniors and that’s kinda hard but at the same time you’ve gotta make sure that your team is all together and it’s not just one person doing the work it’s the whole team working together for a common goal,” Ella Maiden said.
Volleyball means a lot, not just to these girls, but to the school. Pre-COVID, the gym was packed for every match.
“I would say volleyball, especially the last two years the year we made it to state and last year, volleyball brought the whole school together because we have had the best student section,” Ella Maiden said.
“This year only having 25 people in the gym is completely different like it’s crazy different I don’t think the girls were quite prepared but I couldn’t prepare them for that the JV girls really stepped up in staying and being loud for Varsity and Varsity did the same for JV,” Newberry said.
After this weird spring season on the hardwood, she jumps right into another spring season in Track & Field.
“I pole vault, high jump, triple jump, long jump, and I was on the 4×100 relay, 4×400 relay, and the 100m hurdles,” Maiden said.
She even broke the school record for pole vault back in 2019.
“My favorite event is pole vault so definitely love doing that it’s not an easy sport in 2019 we won the state championship and honestly I’m hoping we do it again if we work hard and get girls out I hope to get back,” Maiden said.
Ella lost her track season last spring because of COVID-19. This craziness has helped athletes at every level find a new appreciation for what they have.
“Since everything was taken away from us last spring you’ve got to come into it like this could be our last practice give it all you’ve got and you never know if someone’s gonna come down with COVID so you have to enjoy it while you can so everyone has just been really hard working and really enjoying it,” Maiden said.
Follow this series throughout the year as WJHL’s Michael Epps finds the High School Standout every week on WJHL.com.