In La Jara, Colorado, the high school volleyball team says the competition, and cliff jumping, has brought them closer. Credit: Shelly Polzin
YouTube video

It’s hard to get a better bang for your entertainment buck than a small town gymnasium on a Friday night. I traveled to La Jara, Colorado not only to showcase how awesome any rural gym can be on any given weekend, but also for a sport that’s often overshadowed by the likes of football and basketball. Which, to me, is surprising because volleyball begets as much, if not more, nail-biter excitement than any other sport.

I’d seen photos of Kailyn Polzin, a senior hitter from Centauri High School. Her mom Shelly did this really cool trick that other parents might want to think about: she found a way to quell her overly competitive parental behavior with a camera. She’s become an incredible photographer prowling the sidelines with a lens the size of a sea otter capturing photos of her daughter’s team, and I happened to see her work on Facebook. And because her daughter is her daughter, most of the photos are of, well, her daughter. Turns out, however, that her daughter is best in the state with her game.

Polzin is a veritable killing machine because, as you may know, when you spike a volleyball into the scattering remains of the opposing team and they’re unable to return it then—boom—you’ve earned yourself a kill.

With this news tip I made the trip to La Jara. It’s in the San Luis Valley, about 20 miles north of New Mexico and fifty miles south of Great Sand Dunes National Park. With fall quickly moving in (and on) from the 7600 feet of elevation, a warm gym is a good place to cover a story. On my visit, it only took three games for the Centauri Falcons to sweep the Sanford Mustangs. And it only took that long to capture 256 gigabytes of highlights. I jump into the details with Polzin and Centauri setter Camryn Wilfong as we examine what it takes to be successful in such a physical game (and weirdly enough it involves actual cliff jumping.) 

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.