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Junior Val Gimler helped the Indians’ volleyball squad set the record for funds raised at their annual Pink Game with a total of $7,150. Val led the team with 99 service points and also won the Sportsmanship Award for North Haven this fall. (Photo courtesy of Val Gimler )
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Val Gimler provides the leadership that any team needs to thrive, whether it’s on the court or otherwise. Val, a junior, not only works diligently to make herself a better volleyball player for North Haven, she also strives to help other people reach their potential.
In addition to all her hard work on volleyball court, Val headed up the organization of North Haven’s 10th annual Pink Game that benefited The Sisters Project, an organization which supports cancer patients and their families. This year, the Indians exceeded their fundraising record by bringing in $7,150. At the end of season, Val’s teammates selected her as the recipient of North Haven’s Sportsmanship award.
Val took on a large responsibility by organizing this year’s Pink Game and, although it wasn’t easy, she found the experience very rewarding. After addressing the crowd before the match that night, Val got into game mode and went out there to compete.
“I think the whole process was overwhelming. I figured a lot of things out myself and [Val’s mother, Cindy Gimler] really helped out. Doing the shirts was a big deal, because it was the 10-year anniversary,” says Val. “I’m glad I was able to raise it. It was stressful, but it paid off in the end. All the stress went away once it was over and I finished the public speaking. I kind of flipped the switch and went into warm-ups. It was a good experience.”
Val feels proud that the North Haven community banded together to raise the most money for the Pink Game to date. Indians’ volleyball Head Coach Brianna Kleckner says she was impressed with Val’s efforts.
“Val is incredibly organized, and that worked to her advantage with the Pink Game,” says Coach Kleckner. “She made everything so easy for everybody, because she knew exactly what she wanted to accomplish. [Assistant coach Kristen Bataille] and I, we couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Val plays a defensive role in the right back position, but also excels at supplying accurate serves to help North Haven set up its offense. Still, she is relatively new to the sport. It wasn’t until the summer prior to her freshman year that Val started learning how to play volleyball competitively.
“My 8th-grade gym class teacher, Miss Grove, said I should try out in high school, because I was natural at it,” Val says. “Summer going into freshman year, I was interested in trying out, and I went to Connecticut Juniors volleyball summer camp for basic skill level learning.”
Following a difficult freshman season, Val started coming into her own during her sophomore year. It means a lot to Val to be a member of the Indians, and she remembers the day she was told that she’d earned a spot on the varsity squad.
“Sophomore year tryouts, I got pulled aside with all the seniors, and I was told I was going to be on varsity on the second day of tryouts,” Val says. “That was big for me, because on the third day of practice my freshman year, I got a concussion and was out for a month of the season. I didn’t get a lot of playing time.”
Coach Kleckner has seen Val’s continued improvement throughout the past two seasons. Kleckner says that Val really stepped it up this year, especially at the service line, where she recorded 34 aces with 99 points and had a 98-percent serve consistency. She also posted two digs per set.
“Val has improved tremendously over the past couple of years. Part of that is her always doing her job and asking how to get better,” Kleckner says. “This past year, she served with 98-percent consistency. She also scored the most points off her serve on the team. That was huge for us. That was something that she really worked on in the last year.”
As much as Val likes contributing with her play, she also prides herself on always being there to support her teammates when they need it.
“The most important thing to me is to be someone to reach out to,” she says. “Not only being vocally loud and picking people up, but also if someone is not having a good day and helping out to make sure I’m approachable.”
As far as next season goes, Val wants to hone her game even more and help North Haven make it to states. She thinks the Indians have a good shot as long as they stay together as a group.
“This season, my goal was to get more playing time and be more vocal on the court. Next season, I want to refine my skills more, and I think that the ultimate goal is making the State Tournament next year,” says Val, who thanks her mom and her coach for their support. “That’s really important to me. It’s going to be a team effort starting over the summer and building a strong bond between the varsity players.”
Junior Val Gimler helped the Indians’ volleyball squad set the record for funds raised at their annual Pink Game with a total of $7,150. Val led the team with 99 service points and also won the Sportsmanship Award for North Haven this fall. Photo courtesy of Val Gimler
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