While most athletes dream of competing in the Olympics, all but a few give up before they even come close. But 18-year-old Hannah Reynolds is grabbing her chance to play volleyball on a global level.
Next July, on the heels of her high school graduation, sheâ€™ll fly to Holland, where sheâ€™ll compete with other American teammates against international opponents in the People-to-People International Friendship Games.
Reynolds, a home-schooler who attends school part-time at Hickory Christian Academy, primarily to play high school sports, is confident sheâ€™ll be able to raise the money needed to cover airfare, meals and other travel expenses. Itâ€™s thoughts of volleyball that dominate her dreams.
â€œIâ€™ve always wanted to play in the Olympics and this is probably the closest Iâ€™m ever going to get,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™m really excited about getting to play on the American team. Iâ€™m looking forward to going to Holland. We originally thought we were going to Australia, but this isnâ€™t quite as far away, so Iâ€™m glad for that.â€
Reynolds still isnâ€™t sure who nominated her for the People-to-People team. But, she thinks it could have been someone who knows her from the AAU Carolina Crush volleyball team for which she plays. The team recently traveled to the club team national competition on Orlando, where they finished 48 out of 50.
â€œWe didnâ€™t do very well at all, but it was incredible competing against the athletes there,â€ she said. â€œThe top volleyball players in the country were there and some of those girls will get to play in the Olympics, so it was an unbelievable experience.â€
While filling out college applications this fall, she says sheâ€™ll also be writing letters to family friends and area business owners, asking for donations to help finance her trip. Amy Brock, her coach at Hickory Christian Academy, said she is excited about the People-to-People opportunity too.
â€œHannah is a very competitive player,â€ Brock said. â€œShe sets high goals and works hard to achieve each one. She has truly earned this amazing opportunity. Hannah will represent her family, her school and her country well in Holland.â€
Reynolds, a lifelong Lincolnton resident who also is active in the 4-H, is the youngest daughter of Ricky and Yvonne Reynolds of Sherrills Farm Road. She has a sister, Jessica, who is 23. She is the granddaughter of George and Linda Wilkes, both of Lincolnton, and C.B. and Patsy Reynolds of South Carolina. Her immediate family, whom she describes as doing everything together, will travel to Holland to watch her play.
In addition to volleyball, basketball and soccer, Miss Reynolds also plays guitar in the praise band at Redemption Outreach Center and at Hickory Christian, and enjoys painting and sculpting.
People-to-People selects approximately 50 athletes from each state to compete in a variety of sports. Miss Reynolds said she doesnâ€™t know any of her fellow teammates, but isnâ€™t intimidated.
â€œIâ€™m just so thrilled to get to play volleyball with and meet people from all over the world,â€ she said. â€œI like volleyball the best out of all the sports I play because it is so team-focused.
â€œIn basketball, you might have only three talented players and still win. But in volleyball, you have to have at least six people who are good athletes and really work well together to win. I know Iâ€™m going to meet a lot of people in Holland and I look forward to an experience that I know I will remember for the rest of my life.â€
by Special to the LTN