Ponderosa High senior middle blocker Sara Hickenbottom will continue her volleyball career for Bethany University in Scott’s Valley near Santa Cruz.
Hickenbottom put her signature to her letter of intent at a recent signing ceremony in the school’s gymnasium attended by her new coach, Reed Duffus, family, friends and teammates. Bethany’s mascot is also a Bruin.
The 6-foot, 3-inch, two-time all league performer knew what she wanted and set about achieving her goal.
“I was looking on the internet at the different schools and I noticed Bethany is a Christian school, which is important to me, and it’s by the beach. So I contacted the coach, introduced myself and told him what teams I’d been on, awards and tournaments I’d played in,” Hickenbottom said. “He (Duffus) had actually seen me play so it worked out pretty well.”
She talked to a number of schools, including some Division I programs. Because her love for the sport is important to her, Hickenbottom focused on finding not only a good academic fit but the right volleyball program. She plans to major in child development and become a teacher.
Hickenbottom may want to become a recruiter. She told her good friend, Melissa Copley, about Bethany and the Bruin runner signed with the college last week. The two plan to be roommates. Another one of her friends, junior-to-be Lindsey Bowles, is already talking to Bethany.
Admittedly “awkward” as an incoming freshman at Ponderosa, Hickenbottom elected to play on the junior varsity team a second year rather than make the jump to the varsity level as a sophomore.
“At that point I was just becoming dominant but I wasn’t a vocal player and I wanted to stay down and work on my leadership skills. It was the best decision for me,” Hickenbottom said.
Her two solid years on the varsity squad were recently capped off with an appearance at the Optimist All Star game along with teammates Samantha Rains and Maddie Macauley. She won the team’s “Roof Award” in both varsity seasons and was the school’s Athlete of the Month once as a senior.
“I absolutely loved my team this year. We did well in the playoffs and I love coach (Sheri) Millhollin. She taught me so much — without her I probably wouldn’t play college volleyball,” Hickenbottom said.