Natalie Leung

Staff Writer

MVP award-winning senior Claire Yu, is an outsider hitter for High School North’s girls volleyball team. During middle school, shortly after Yu watched the volleyball teams at the Olympics dominate on the court, she decided to give it a try of her own. That instant attraction to volleyball has developed into a passion that has thrived for the past six years during her time on North’s girls volleyball team, as well as the club volleyball team she participates in outside of school. 

Volleyball has played a significant role in expanding Yu’s high school experience, as well as shaping her personal attributes. Yu revealed that, “Without volleyball, I would never have become the person I am today. My self-confidence grew from the matches I have participated in and the exhilarating prospect of competing in front of a large audience. I owe it to volleyball for letting me experience ‘fun’ outside of academics.” 

North’s volleyball team is where Yu experienced some of her fondest memories, including sharing snacks with her teammates on bus rides. According to Yu’s fellow teammate, senior Sreeja Polkampally, Yu did more on those bus rides than share snacks, “ I always appreciate our bus rides and warm-up time. Claire is good at calming our nerves down and I always know how to get a good laugh with her.” She also enjoys participating in one of North’s volleyball games, such as Yu’s favorite, “queen of the court”. The game features three players against another three, and whichever team wins the round is appointed the “queen of the court”, with the goal of maintaining that title for as long as possible. For her and others alike, playing “queen of the court”, was always a gratifying end to a rigorous practice.  

According to Yu, “[She] was quite disappointed about fall sports being cancelled, especially since this would be [her] last time playing on a team with [her] closest friends.” As a senior, Yu stepped up to the plate, taking on the role of captain during the fall virtual season. Though WW-P sports were cancelled this fall, she was able to practice outside of school, maintaining her skills by attending workouts along with a small number of teammates, led by North’s girls varsity volleyball coach, Brianna Chicowski. Yu spent this time bonding with her teammates, something she is known for; “If I had to describe Claire in one word it would be personable. No matter how long you have been on the team or how little you know her personally, Claire makes sure to check up on all our team members,” Polkampally said. Yu even utilizes her free time in order to keep up her practice, oftentimes with her younger brother in the backyard. Volleyball is much more than just a sport to Claire Yu, it is a passion that connects her with her family and friends. 

Despite the often difficult and time-consuming schedule of an athlete, Yu seems to have it all figured out, finding a way to balance both academics and athletics. According to Yu, her secret is an organized, regimented schedule she would plan-out for herself everyday during the fall sports season. With long competitions spanning as late as 8 pm on a school night, Yu added that it was also a help that she, “… [has] adjusted to working late at night […]” 

This schedule also allows Yu to indulge in the world of photography, as she has found a love for snapping pictures and editing them in her free time. In the future she hopes to combine her photography skills with her passion for traveling during a venture to her dream destinations, Greece and Alaska. 

Regardless of the unexpected cancellation of Yu’s senior fall volleyball season, Yu’s extraordinary work ethic and grit will carry on to the spring season, as she leads the team as captain. In the end, Yu will have left an unforgettable legacy for the North girls volleyball team.

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