Life at a small school dictates, from time to time, that freshmen will be called upon to step-up and play
varsity. This has been the case this fall for Heritage Christian. In their first year in Circle City Conference
play, the Eagles have leaned heavily on a talented group of freshman girls to compete against their
much larger competition. Five have started or seen significant playing time between the Girls Soccer
and Volleyball teams and another has emerged as the leader of the Girls Golf squad. Making the jump
from middle school to varsity athletics has not always been easy, but these young ladies are growing
into their roles and making a difference.

Raven Colvin stands at an impressive 6’0”. It is not surprising she was able to make an immediate
impact on the volleyball team at middle blocker for the Eagles. Having played club for the Academy
Volleyball Club, she was used to competing at a high level. Still, varsity athletics proved to be
challenging. “It is much more of a time commitment, and it’s harder to play on their level,” reflected
Colvin. That said, it did not take long for her to prove she belonged. She has played in every set this
season and has the second highest K/S (1.8) on the team.

Elizabeth Phillips is also making an impact at middle blocker. Following in the footsteps of her older
sister (junior, Rachel Phillips), she has seen has seen significant playing time. “They asked me to change
positions, and I didn’t want to at first. But I decided to step up and make the most of it,” Phillips
explained. Make the most of it, indeed. She is currently second on the team in kills with 139, behind
only her older sister. She is also third in aces with 21.

The Girls Soccer team also called upon a handful of freshmen to come to their aid. Natalia Snyder joined
her sister, Sophia, in the starting lineup for HCS earlier this fall. A diminutive young lady, the speed and
physicality of varsity matches was overwhelming at times. “One time, I was totally wiped out. I did a
full flip in the air,” shared a wide-eyed Snyder with a chuckle. Still, she is more than holding her own.
She has played in every game this season, logging a goal and an assist as well as the second most
minutes played.

Along with Snyder, Grace Byers and Julian Klutz have seen significant time on the pitch. Byers leads all
underclassmen with 8 points (3 goals and 2 assists). Klutz has also found the back of the net twice while
playing midfielder. “I was kind of thrown in at midfielder, which I did not normally play. I have had to
learn the position at the highest level. It’s been difficult, but fun!” offered Klutz.

Coming into the fall golf season, Morgan Hicks was unsure of what to expect. She thought she may end
up playing as the #3, possibly #2. She was thoroughly surprised when her coach, Barry Gulley,
announced she would be their #1. The reality of constantly facing juniors and seniors pushed her to
focus and train harder than ever. The results followed. After earning All-Conference honors at the
Circle City Conference Championship in August, she went on to also earn All-City honors and qualify for
Regionals during the IHSAA State Tournament.

There have been support mechanisms in place to help these young ladies transition to the world of high
school sports. First, their coaches have gone out of their way to both challenge them and nurture their
growth. Coach Gulley stays in constant contact with Hicks, working hard with her at the range on minor
improvements to her swing while still allowing her to, as Hicks stated, “be who I am.” Coach Jimmy
Wiltsee gives his young players much needed individual attention and works to build their confidence.
Coach Whitney Sweet is not afraid to force her girls out of their comfort zone, but also serves as an
invested teacher of the game.

For the most part, the upperclassmen have welcomed the young help with open arms. Phillips and
Snyder obviously already knew most of the other girls through their sisters. Both Snyder and Klutz
discussed how much more they have enjoyed playing high school soccer over club due to the closeness
of the team. “It’s great getting to see my teammates every day at school. With club, everyone comes
from all over, so it’s always just about soccer. We are super close here. It’s like family,” explained
Snyder. Hicks talked about all of the fun times she has had with her teammates away from the course.
Their acceptance helped her gain more confidence.

The youth movement will likely continue on the volleyball court next year for the Eagles as they have
several seniors graduating. The Girls Golf and Girls Soccer teams would seem to be set as they will only
lose one senior between the two. Time will tell how much these girls have benefited from gaining so
much experience so early, but if the early returns are any indication, they should be fun to watch.