Eleanor King will soon be faced with a decision to make – one that is a win-win, but she will have to decide which “victory” means more to her.
King is an outstanding volleyball player on an outstanding volleyball team at Dexter High. Only a junior, she has helped the Dreadnaughts spike most of their games into the win column as they prepare for the biggest matches of the season.
But a little further down the road, King will have to choose between playing volleyball at the next level or calling it a career and moving on with the rest of her life.
“I’m still unsure of my future in volleyball,” says King, the daughter of Lorna and Phil King. “I would love to play volleyball in college, but having grown up in the Ann Arbor area, it’s always been a dream of mine to go to Michigan, and I unfortunately would not be able to play volleyball there.”
King, 16, will continue to look at her options.
“If I don’t end up playing in college, I will play intramural or club volleyball,” she says.
Whatever she decides, it will surely be the right decision. Because even at this young age, King seems to have mastered the art of making the right choices.
“Eleanor is one of the most mentally tough and knowledgeable players I’ve ever coached,” said Dexter volleyball coach head Elizabeth Melvin. “Her maturity on the court and in conversation stands out. She’s a dedicated and dependable workhorse who always gives 110 percent. She’s the kind of go-getter athlete that any coach would be honored to work with.”
And when she steps out onto a volleyball court, King is Dexter royalty.
“Eleanor is aware of so many aspects of the game that a lot of players only dream of understanding,” Melvin said. “She plays both calm and energized at the same time, while naturally leading our team and program in a competitive and positive direction.”
The direction the Dreadnaughts are heading is straight into Districts and a date with talented Saline in the first round. But there are a couple other important matches Dexter has to focus on before taking on the Hornets on Nov. 7.
“We have our rivalry Dig Pink match against Chelsea on Oct. 22 and Senior Night vs. Pioneer on Oct. 24,” said King. “But everything we do is in preparation for our District game vs. Saline. We have the opportunity to play Saline a few more times before Nov. 7 which we will utilize to adjust our playing and better our chances for the semifinals.”
King, who is a setter and a captain for the Dreadnaughts, believes her team is right on course for a big finish. They not only have been piling up the wins but going about it the right way – including working hard for every point.
“We knew going in that the loss of two key players from last year had to be filled somehow,” King said. “Everyone on the team has taken initiative to fill any gaps from a skills standpoint, but more importantly we changed our attitude from last season to this season. Last season we had the ability to pull out wins without giving full effort the entire time.
“This year the team has become so much more cohesive. We play for each other, and we’re aware of the fact that we have no other option but to fight and earn every point of every game, no matter the opponent.”
King started playing volleyball in the fourth grade through the Rec. & Ed. program in Ann Arbor. “I played a lot of sports as a kid, but I stuck with volleyball because I was tall, and I also love the team aspect of the game,” she said.
During the offseason, King plays for the Huron Valley Volleyball Club.
“Last year my team went to a national competition in Chicago and won the tournament,” she said. “Playing club is a lot different than playing school volleyball. Although it’s less competitive, I’m able to develop skills and train with girls that I’ve played with for as long as I can remember.”
King also plays water polo for the Dreadnaughts in the winter.
“It’s not only a great way to condition and stay in shape, but I also love the sport,” she says. “I started swimming when I was 8, but I ended up leaving the sport so that I could play high school volleyball. So, water polo seemed like a good alternative, plus it was another team sport which I prefer over individual sports.”
King, who not only plays two sports at Dexter as well as club volleyball, has been quite busy in the class room as well. But she’s been doing a great job not only carrying a 3.9 grade-point average but managing her time.
“This year has already been the most difficult to manage in terms of balancing school and sports because of my course load (IB English, AP Chemistry, Orchestra, AP Calculus, AP Government, and IB Spanish),” she says. “But I’ve learned to take advantage of free time, and my coaches have been great about checking in with the team about how school is going as well as offering any support.”
King is mastering the art of making the right choices – a crowning achievement, especially for a 16-year-old.