July 13, 2020 – By NJP
Roxbury had a very young team last season and returns virtually all of their squad for the 2020 campaign. The Gaels finished 20-9 overall in 2019 and have high hopes for the fall campaign. Head Coach Anthony McMichael knows that some things may be out of everyone’s control with COVID season delays. “Our student-athletes have worked very hard in preparation for the 2020 season, and hopefully they will have an opportunity to safely compete this Fall”, said the McMichael who has Coached Roxbury for the last 8 seasons. The Gaels have a very solid team, but we expect one of the leaders to be Amber Chen.
McMichael shared his thoughts on Chen, a senior outside for Roxbury who lead the team in kills, digs, and aces as a junior. “Amber is an extremely hardworking and dedicated student-athlete. Her strong work ethic propels her success in the classroom and on the volleyball court, and I am excited for her to have another successful year at Roxbury.”
Chen has been an overall contributor to the Gaels since joining the team as a freshman. In her first three seasons, she has been super consistent with over 200 digs in all three campaigns. She has amassed 562 kills, 696 digs, and 91 aces in her career and her overall play has stabilized Roxbury on both the attack and on defense. She certainly had a chance to achieve 1,000 kills and digs for her career but the COVID shortened season may make that an impossibility.
Amber is a confident and motivated student athlete. She has been playing volleyball since about the time she could walk, so everything seems to be second nature to her. She trains for all facets of the game, both physically and mentally, and brings focus and intensity to both aspects as well as her academics.
She has the makings of an outstanding college player and leader and will excel with any school who is lucky enough to land her.
Here is our interview with Ms. Chen…
Hi Amber. Thanks for taking the time to meet with us today. Can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Amber Chen and I am an incoming senior at Roxbury High School in Roxbury, New Jersey. My graduating year is 2021 and I am a three-year varsity starter for my school’s volleyball team. My family consists of my Mom, my Dad, my 2 brothers, and my dog. I am so grateful to have been blessed with such a supportive and loving family.
How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?
Growing up, I was constantly surrounded by volleyball. Both of my parents grew up playing and loving the sport, so it was natural for me to love it too. Although I have had a volleyball in my hands since I was a toddler, I joined my first club team at the age of 11, a national 13s team that my mom coached. Even though I was also heavily invested in swimming at the time, I always knew that volleyball was my favorite sport. Ultimately, the motivation that my parents provided me helped to fuel my interest in volleyball, which is a main reason as to why I love it so much today. I also hold a huge amount of gratitude towards my coaches, for they have not only helped me advance my volleyball skills, but they are also a huge part of any success thus far in my volleyball career.
What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What’s your favorite position to play?
I am super short for volleyball, 5’6, and my vertical is 28 inches. I play for USANY and am, by far, the shortest girl on the team. In USANY, I am a libero, which is an essential position for the sport. At the same time, for high school, I play as an outside hitter. Because of the diversity and skills that the sport requires as a whole, I consider myself an all-around player, which is why I do not have a favorite position to play. Every position has a significant role in the sport and they are all equally important. In my entire volleyball career, I have at least practiced all positions, which is why I believe I am such a versatile player.
Roxbury went 20-9 and has almost all of their starters returning from last year… what are your expectations for this years squad?
I am super excited about the possibilities this volleyball season brings to my team! This year’s group is incredibly hardworking and an overall great team! We work really well together and I am sure that we are going to be very successful this season, especially because we are so devoted to the sport. I am hoping that we win counties this year. We were big contenders last year!
You put up some monster stats as a junior. What are your personal goals for 2020?
This year, my goal is to be a great leader for my team both on and off of the court. That being said, I want to inspire my teammates to be the best versions of themselves. By the end of the season, I hope that our team will be super tight-knit, competitive, and have achieved its greatest potential, no matter the victories we earn. To me, volleyball is not just about winning, but it’s also about becoming a more focused, motivated, and diligent person surrounded by a very supportive and loving team.
NJP considers you one of the best senior players in the state of NJ. Can you tell us your plan for playing volleyball at the college level?
I definitely plan on playing volleyball in college, but this year especially, the process is extremely difficult. It is particularly frustrating because of the pandemic, which has created a dead period for Division 1 sports since March. For us 2021 athletes, it’s getting to the point where we may have to take a leap of faith without any official college visits or with less information than we hoped for. I really hope that this is not the case but a lot of us are in this position because of these strenuous circumstances. Overall, though, I am super excited to continue the commitment process.
Tell us about your high school coach?
I have never met any other person who is as devoted to the sport of volleyball as Coach McMike. He remembers the exact details of every single play, every tournament, and every match throughout the entire season. On and off season, he eats, sleeps, and breathes high school volleyball, and I truly admire and thank him for the devotion and dedication he has for the team. Coach McMichael is such a friendly and generous guy and the amount of work he puts into the team awes me. I actually met him while I was playing for my first club volleyball team, Allegro, and he has come to or watched at least one of my tournaments every year after that. He truly cares about each and every one of his players and I cannot thank him enough for all of the support he has given me.
Which player last season was the toughest competitor that you faced and why?
My toughest competitor on and off the court has always been myself. As long as I am confident in my abilities, I can achieve anything I put my mind to.
What is your favorite inspirational video that you like to watch before games?
Before a game, I like to eat some good food, listen to some hype music, and I tend to be very talkative. The best person I can talk to before a game is either my Mom or my Dad, for they are incredibly helpful, motivational, and soothing. No matter what, they always have great confidence in me, and I cannot thank them enough for all of the support, love, and encouragement they have given me.
Is there a teacher or coach who really helped you along the way?
Everyone in my life has made some sort of impact on my volleyball career, and I am super grateful for their help in getting me where I am today. Special thanks to each and every one of my club coaches, for they have not only bettered my volleyball abilities, but they have also pushed me to become a tougher, more driven person. I want to thank my current club volleyball coach for going out of his way to make sure every single player on the team is given the opportunity to succeed and excel. To all of my teachers, thank you for reminding me that academic achievements are just as important as athletic achievements. I want to thank all of my volleyball teammates for supporting me and giving me such a competitive environment to play and learn in, and finally, I want to thank my friends and family for loving and inspiring me no matter what. There are many people in my life who I owe a lot of gratitude to, and they all have a hand in molding me into the person I am today.
Beach or Hard Court?
Although indoor volleyball has made such a drastic impact on my life, I also enjoy playing doubles beach and grass volleyball. Outdoor volleyball really forces you to become an all-around player, and I enjoy the challenge of having to manage an entire court with only one other person. While forcing me to become a smarter player due to the elements, outdoor volleyball has greatly benefited my playing indoors, for it expanded my speed, confidence, and reading abilities.
What do you do during the off season to stay in shape and prepare for next year?
The off season for high school volleyball consists entirely of the club volleyball season. Not only do I continue to work on leg, core, and arm workouts at home, but I also devote most of my time to USANY and, every kid’s favorite, schoolwork. I am so grateful for my club team and the opportunities that it provides. The girls are super supportive and have an immense passion for the sport. I am incredibly thankful for the competitive environment that they bring to every practice, for they truly help me to become the best volleyball player that I can be. The club has taught me responsibility, organization, the ability to thrive in a group setting, and, most importantly, mental toughness, which are traits that help to make me a better person off of the court.