Archive for Thursday, August 3, 2006

Kracl chooses college, preps for senior season

August 3, 2006

Choosing what college to go to can become a stressful decision in a young person's life. Teens often agonize over that decision well into the summer after their senior year of high school. But that decision for Eudora High School incoming senior Erin Kracl came very early -- just two months after her completion of her junior year. Not only that, but her decision was made with ease.

"I just committed (July 26) to the University of South Florida," Kracl said. "They've been recruiting me for a while now, and they gave me a full-ride to play volleyball."

Kracl said in her six short years of playing volleyball -- only three of which were at a competitive level -- she had accomplished quite a bit. A brief run-down of her accolades indicate just that: she was first team all-league, first team all-state and Lawrence Journal-World area Volleyball Player of the Year.

In preparation for her senior year and future tenure at USF, Kracl has been working out, practicing and playing on a club team all summer.

Eudora High School volleyball coach Jill Stutler said Kracl's dedication now would no doubt prepare her nicely for the beginning of the high school season.

"Erin's one that knows when to kick it into high gear," Stutler said. "She's not afraid to step on toes to get the job done."

Kracl said she just did what her team needed her to do, and if stepping on toes was what she needed to do, she would do it. But Kracl said she really preferred being in the front row because her strongest aspect was her ability to attack and block.

Kracl only stands at 5 feet, 8 inches. However, she is easily able to overcome the modest height with a vertical jump of 26 inches.

Stutler said Kracl's blocking ability also was stellar.

"Erin's overall play between her court awareness and physical ability allows her to be such a strong blocker," Stutler said.

But what really makes Kracl so good on the court is her continuous drive to be a team player. She said that was actually her favorite aspect of volleyball.

"Volleyball is such a different sport because not just one person can carry the team," Kracl said. "It's a very team-oriented sport, and it's more fun like that. You have to win as a team, not as an individual."

And her team is what she is keeping in the forefront of her mind going into her senior year. With the EHS volleyball team coming off two years' worth of upsets at the state tournament championships, she said she was confident the team can pull together and remedy its past mistakes.

"Our nerves got to us. If we go back again this year, we'll be able to calm out nerves better and just go out and play volleyball," Kracl said.

Stutler said with a leader on the team like Kracl, the team should perform well during the season.

Kracl said when she was not thinking about how her team can improve, she was concentrating on how she can improve as an individual player. She said she needed to work on her back-row play and her defensive skills.

There was a time, not so many years ago when Kracl almost chose another sport over volleyball. Kracl said in middle school, she was a self-proclaimed basketball nut. Then, Kracl's older sister, Lauren, who also was a volleyball star in her high school and college years, introduced her to the game. Erin said it was love at first sight and she has been playing volleyball ever since.

Kracl said she cannot take all of the credit for her current all-star status. She said her family had been so supportive of her over the years, which really helped boost her appreciation for the game.

"My family has never missed a game in the past," Kracl said. "Also, my sister pushed me hard my freshman year, and she was a shoulder to cry on when I needed it."

Even though Kracl already has decided where she's going to college to major in sports medicine, she said she still was not sure what she was going to do once she graduates from USF. But considering how quickly and easily she made her college decision, it shouldn't be a question mark for too long.

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