January 9, 2020 – By NJP
We took some time to talk with Aaron LaPlaca, a 6’5″ Junior Middle at Old Bridge High School and a current member of the Warren 6 Pack 17-1 National team this week. Aaron educated us on his background as well as answered some pointed questions about the upcoming year.
We have seen first hand what kind of impact Aaron can have for his team during the club season. The Warren 6 Pack 17-1 team has been virtually unstoppable this winter and has already amassed three tournament victories, with many against 18U teams. LaPlaca has been a big part of the teams success. Aaron is a passionate and dominant middle that can swing momentum with punishing kills as well as monster blocks.
Despite being just a sophomore last year, Aaron had 68 kills and 20 blocks for the state champions on a team rich with talent. After losing seven seniors, Aaron’s role will now shift to being a leader for a team with sky high expectations and seeking three championships in a row.
Here is our interview:
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I go to Old Bridge High School in Old Bridge, NJ. I am a junior, graduating in the class of 2021. I enjoy going out, practicing, and working out.
How long have you played volleyball?
I have played volleyball for 3 years as of now, and there is more to come!
What inspired you to take up volleyball initially?
My friends inspired me to play in 8th grade. I saw that they were trying out for the school team, so I decided to give it a try. I ended up making the team, and falling in love instantly with the sport.
Who is your support group?
My family and friends are constantly supporting me throughout every move I make.
How will The Knights do in the upcoming season? Do you have a lot of returning players? What will be the key to success?
We lost seven seniors this year, five of which were are starters. The key to success would be working hard at practice, and strengthening our weak points. Hopefully, we will become a very successful team this year, with the help of some of the returning players.
Tell us about your school?
Over 2,850 people attend Old Bridge High School each and every day. We are a rather big school, and there’s a lot of opportunity for success and athletics with our students. We are hard-working and motivated, and will get the job done!
Tell us about your high school coach?
Coach Hopman is a very hard-working guy and is dedicated to the game of volleyball. He pushes us everyday, whether it’s on the court or not, and makes us the successful team we are. He taught us leadership and showed us how to work together as a team. Without him, we wouldn’t get very far, and definitely wouldn’t be this successful.
What does your high school team do that is different than the other teams out there to prepare you for the season?
We participate in multiple practices each week, and work hard with our club teams. This allows us to hone in our skills and become the great, hard-working team that we are.
Which player last season was the toughest competitor that you faced and why?
Fairlawn’s Outside Hitter, Mark Berry, was the toughest competitor I faced so far. He has a very good line shot, and will hit cross when needed to. He is very scrappy on defense and passes well. He is a senior this year, and I am very excited to match up against him again.
NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state. Do you plan on playing in College? (If so, which ones are you looking at?)
I do plan on playing college volleyball. I have been talking to some schools, but I still am exploring my options that are good for my future.
Which schools are your biggest rivals?
Fairlawn, Southern Regional, and St. Joes are our biggest rivals.
What is your favorite volleyball story?
My favorite volleyball story is making the state playoffs, and winning the state championship of New Jersey. It was a journey from the beginning and we couldn’t accomplish this achievement without each and every member on that team. We demonstrated teamwork and worked really hard to get to that final point. We studied countless hours of film, and practiced nonstop until we perfected each little thing we needed to improve.
How do you manage your time when playing a varsity sport?
It seems overwhelming, but I do manage my time between school, work, and volleyball well. I play volleyball six days a week when the season starts. I try to get all my school work done in school or a little when I get home from practice. I work the one day I have off.
What are your other hobbies?
Some other hobbies I have include photography, working out, and juggling.
What do you do during the offseason to stay in shape and prepare for next year?
In the offseason, I practice and travel to tournaments with my club team. I workout every other day, and I make sure that I am active. I often watch videos on blocking and hitting to improve.
Do you play other sports? (if so, which ones?)
The other sports I play include flag football and basketball.
What is your favorite part of the NJP website?
I love seeing the rankings of each high school team, and to see my team all the way at the top is flattering.
Who is your favorite college or pro volleyball player and why?
Maxwell Holt is my favorite professional volleyball player. He is a middle blocker just like myself, and he dominates at the pro level. I often watch and study the way he moves and blocks.
Who is your favorite teammate and why?
My favorite teammate is the other middle on my team, Zach Cusinier. Me and him have a strong bond, and I enjoy going against him in scrimmages and practice. He motivates me to become better and is also one of my good friends.
What makes the Old Bridge Knights a candidate for a 3-peat State Championship?
The amount of hard-work, time, and practice we put in everyday makes us the team we are today.