Sports Person of the Week
Conrad Keeps Things Positive on the Court
Junior Chase Conrad has been a steady supporter of her teammates on the Valley Regional girls’ volleyball squad. Chase, who plays mainly in the back row, has a steady hand as a server and was successful on 88 percent of her attempts this year. (Photo courtesy of Chase Conrad)
Chase Conrad constantly gives it her all in support of the Valley Regional girls’ volleyball team. A junior, Chase is one of the Warriors’ most vocal players both on and off the court and is always ready to provide an extra spark whenever they need it.
Chase has made many memories at Valley, but the one that stands out the most was when she was part of the Warriors’ Shoreline Conference title last fall. Chase prides herself on helping her team stay positive, and that’s exactly what Valley needed in its come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Hale-Ray in the 2019 Shoreline final.
“I would say one of my biggest achievements is being with my team winning Shorelines last year,” Chase says. “Just being there to support my teammates, cheering them on, and pushing to the last second is one of the best feelings ever.”
This year, the Warriors put together another outstanding campaign in which they posted a record of 8-1. Unfortunately, Valley was unable to defend its Shoreline title as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the regular season drew to a close, Valley Regional had to temporarily shut down due to a spike in positive coronavirus tests at the school. The closing meant that all sports were stopped just as the postseason tournaments were ramping up. Still, Chase remains proud of what her team accomplished during the season.
“It was very disappointing, but overall, we did a very good job. We lost one game against an undefeated team, Haddam-Killingworth,” says Chase. “We really stepped up our game. We relied on each other, trusted each other, and encouraged each other. We bonded really well. Our team was really good this year.”
Chase mostly plays in the back row for Valley, but she can also play a hitter position. Where Chase really shines, though, is as a server. This season, Chase was successful on 88 percent of her serves.
“I’m a pretty good back row defender. I can also hit pretty well. I would say serving is one of my best roles,” Chase says. “I’m more a consistent server than a hard server. That’s really important in a game. Getting the ball over so our team can get it back and then slam it down on their court is important.”
Chase believes that her most important role is providing moral support for her teammates. Chase hopes to continue doing that as a senior next year.
“I view myself as almost a cheerleader. I call myself a type of hype man. I look for people who are frustrated. That could be a captain or a sophomore. It doesn’t matter,” says Chase, who lives in Ivoryton. “I try to be positive and avoid negativity. Once negativity is in the equation, it’s really hard to get it out.”
Positivity is something everyone needs in 2020. Chase and her teammates weren’t sure that they would even get the chance to play this season. Things looked bleak when the Warriors were practicing without a volleyball in the parking lot.
“In the beginning of the season, we weren’t allowed to be on the court. We were in the parking lot spaced out in parking spots with an hour of conditioning for practice,” Chase says. “We would go up to coach every day, asking if we could go on the court yet. When we got to go inside, we were prepared. We were in shape, and we bonded as a team. We just gave it our all and got back into the rhythm.”
Coach Patrice Nelson says that Chase added tremendous value to the Warriors this season. Nelson can’t wait to see what next year brings for Chase.
“What comes to mind when I reflect back on the season with Chase is her commitment to the sport and her great character. Chase is committed to giving her best effort the minute she steps foot into the gym,” Nelson says. “Chase is the kind of player that makes coaching easy and, with her positive attitude, she elevates everyone else, too. She’s got strong volleyball skills and good court awareness. She hustles like nobody, and that snap of the wrist makes for a hard cross-court hit. An engaged player on and off the court, we’re grateful to have another season with Chase on our team.”
When Chase isn’t on the court with her teammates, she stays involved with a variety of endeavors at Valley Regional High School. Chase enjoys the stage and participating in musical productions at Valley, where she’s also involved in student government.
“I do the musical, and I’m in our student choir at the high school. I also do student government,” says Chase. “All of that helps my focus and lets me zone in. It distracts me from the uncertainty of everything. That uncertainty can make you a little anxious. So, I just focus on those things.”
As for next season, Chase hopes that the Warriors will pick up right where they left of from this year. Chase plans on putting in the work to improve her own skills, while helping Valley continue its successful run.
“I want to work on my play defensively. I want to be a stronger defensive player. I also want to bond with the underclassmen. We had to practice in cohorts. Varsity had a specific time, JV had a time, and the freshmen had a time. It was hard to get to know everyone that way, so I would love to build stronger relationships,” Chase says. “I’m hoping that we just play our best and that we really prove ourselves. We just have to give it our all. We’ve come a long way. Looking back at freshman year to this season, we’ve improved so much. So, we just have to keep working hard at what we do.”