BY HAILEY BROWN
Maybe it was her skill level, maybe it was her drive to become a better player or maybe it was simply her love for the game. Whatever it was, it put her on the starting lineup for varsity as a freshman, and based on past years of Cooper City volleyball, that has proved to be very impressive.
Devyn Moore is just one of the three freshmen put on varsity this year. After months of evaluation at summer conditioning, coach Jill Smitherman saw to it that the hard working freshman from Texas would find herself on varsity. Moore had been playing soccer all her life until five years ago, when she decided that soccer was just not the right fit for her. Her parents were very supportive of her decision to switch from soccer to volleyball; her mother had played volleyball in high school and was also a four-year starter on varsity.
“I thought soccer was too competitive and I knew the basics of volleyball, so I tried out at LoneStar, in Texas, where I lived before, and I did rec volleyball there first,” Moore said. “That’s what started the five years.”
Moore began playing rec volleyball at a club called LoneStar Volleyball in Frisco, Texas. Moore started playing in a recreational when she was nine years old. In this league, she was placed in a lower level group, where she played with a lighter ball and a lower net to help new players start out. This was when a coach, who also was the mom of one of Moore’s friends in Texas, saw potential and taught her the basics using a normal volleyball. That jump-started her volleyball career and prepared her well for a real volleyball when the time came.
Three years ago, Moore was diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter Disease, a childhood repetitive-use injury that causes a painful lump below the kneecap which often occurs during growth spurts. This did not stop Moore from playing the sport she loves, but it did slightly limit her performance. Simple falls and getting low and ready for the ball proved to be very painful. Over these past three years, Moore has been in less pain and wears knee sleeves under her knee pads to help prevent pain. Nowadays, she explains that the pain is minimal and showcases this out on the court when she’s aggressively diving for balls and making plays.
Being on varsity on as a freshman is a big accomplishment on its own, but starting on varsity as a freshman is a whole different story. In all her years of coaching, Smitherman has only put three freshmen on varsity prior to this year, only two of them being while she was a coach at Cooper City. Moore had a lot to prove to Smitherman, but she didn’t have any doubt in her abilities.
Moore was put on varsity for multiple reasons: knowing the game well, being talented in her position and being talented in every other position. Moore joined the team as an outside hitter and has played that position since she started playing volleyball. She was put there when she first started playing back in Texas because of her height and her high vertical.
“Devyn showed a tremendous amount of skill at a young age as well as court knowledge as a freshman,” Smitherman said. “Watching her in the summertime in open gym, I had a feeling she would be a contender for varsity. She was one of my top picks as a freshman.”
Even though Moore had always been an outside hitter, Smitherman had another idea. She was given a libero jersey at the beginning of the season, which was a surprise for Moore, as she had never played libero before. A libero is a defensive specialist who only plays back row and is able to sub in without stopping the game.
“I was honestly quite shocked that I was given a libero jersey; I’m confident in my passing ability but I had always played outside hitter,” Moore said. “It’s just a new challenge to overcome and a new position to master, and I’m excited to learn.”
In just five years, Moore has gone from barely knowing the basics and playing rec, to a freshman starter on varsity, with a lot of ups and downs in between. Coming this far as a player and a person has shown Moore a lot of things about herself that she didn’t see before.
“I feel like I’ve [become] more, in my point of view, a leader to myself,” Moore said. “I am confident in telling myself that it’s okay that I messed up here, this is how I’m [going to] fix it.
Moore has become a better person and more of a team player on the court and in life; this is just a step along the way to her very long road to success.
Featured photo by Hailey Brown