SAN MIGUEL COUNTY – The small high schools of Colorado’s Western Slope aren’t known for breeding collegiate-level athletes, but two local teenagers are hoping to change that.
Norwood High School’s Lindsey Stindt and Telluride High School’s Emily Langley have been standout players on their respective volleyball teams over the last four years, competing against one another in the San Juan Basin League and leading both teams to the Colorado State Championships last fall. Now, the two seniors will continue their volleyball careers on the college level at Adams State College, where the two have been invited to join the school’s volleyball team for the next school year.
Stindt says that playing sports in small towns like Norwood and Telluride is difficult, since players here don’t get much exposure to college scouts. “It means a lot” to be accepted onto a college team, she says, “and shows quite a bit about how our sports programs are getting a lot better here on the Western Slope.”
Both girls were recognized throughout their high school careers, winning numerous All Conference and All Region awards over the years, and being named to the Colorado High School Coaches Association’s All State volleyball team senior year. Throughout it all, their names ultimately caught the attention of Adams State’s volleyball team, a 2A collegiate program.
Telluride High School volleyball coach Fawnda Rogers says she believes Langely is the first collegiate-level volleyball player Telluride has produced, while NHS volleyball coach Sheri Hardman says there hasn’t been a collegiate-level volleyball player to come out of Norwood in well over a decade.
To have two regional players go on to play college in a single season will bring attention to these two schools’ sports programs, Rogers says.
“It’s going to change the attitude of those Eastern Slope schools; they’re going to realize they need to pay attention [to the Western Slope.] It’s going to open doors for my younger girls – they now know it’s possible” to someday play on a collegiate team, Rogers says.
From their coaches’ perspectives, both Langley and Stindt embody all the qualities of successful athletes: They are hard workers, both on and off the court, and have a good attitude, a love of the sport – but most of all, both possess a strong drive to succeed. Playing collegiate volleyball will compel these players to reach for higher athletic horizons, their coaches agree.
“The level of competition is certainly higher in college, so her freshman year will be a time for building and learning,” Hardman says of Stindt. “But that’s what’s expected of a freshman player. There is no doubt she’s going to learn what she needs to learn and develop well.”
Rogers noticed Langley’s fierce competitive drive early in her career; this characteristic will serve her well as she moves onto the next competitive level, she says.
“She had the height, and the passion to learn. She was one of those girls that you just knew if she trained hard, she would change our game and help us win,” Rogers says of Langley, who was a starter her freshman year.
Langley says she always knew she wanted to play at the collegiate level. Now that her dream is becoming a reality, she’s looking forward to blazing a trail for future THS volleyball players who hope to extend their careers into college.
“I feel like Telluride volleyball will be more well-known now, which is exciting, and hopefully will be good for the girls coming into the program,” says Langley.
Both Langley and Stindt agree that playing on the same team will be an added bonus.
“It’s so cool that two girls who live 45 minutes apart and were such big rivals in high school will now be playing together in college,” Langley says of their future as teammates.
THS’s Rogers believes the two will prove themselves as powerhouse players as they settle into their careers as Grizzly volleyball players. “These are two girls who are smart players, and have that hunger. I think we’re going to see these girls change that program in the next four years.”