October 27, 2020 – By NJP
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, there are 8 different definitions of the word family. It’s a complex but very important word. In all of its varieties, when we spoke with Skylar Hendrick of the West Windsor Plainsboro South Pirates, we clearly think of 4A below… “A group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation”.
The convictions and affiliations in this case are plain to see. For Skylar, one of her convictions is a passion for the game of volleyball. Her affiliation is the WWPS Pirates squad which she holds the members so dear. And of course, her immediate family, especially the support from her Mom, is a partnership she treasures. As you read the interview below, family is one of the most important words in Skylar’s vocabulary. A comfort word that brings safety, support, and warmth.
In the greater sense of things, the sisterhood that exists on the Lady Pirates is a special bond. We have seen instances where these types of relationships can breed overachievement in teams. With everyone firing together toward a greater goal. But the irony here is that the Pirates have a massive amount of talent for 2021. COVID aside, this can be a very special year for the Pirates. But we get the sense that even if the season doesn’t occur, it already is a win for WWPS with amazing forever relationships being born.
Skylar had a breakout season as a sophomore, putting up some monster numbers, and being part of very young but very succesful team with the Pirates achieving a 21-7 and a BCSL final appearance. This year, the entire varsity squad returns and we have high expectations for Skylar and her teammates which include Sibana Gonzalez, Alisa Vukovic, Vasha Gollarhalli, and Shakthi Sreenivas.
Here is our interview with Ms. Hendrick…
Tell us a bit about yourself, Skylar?
I attend WWP South. I live in West Windsor. I graduate 2022. We moved here a few years ago from Connecticut. I have two older siblings who are out of college, my dad played volleyball in college, we are all very close and they come to all my games!
How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?
I have been playing volleyball since the 8th grade, so only 4 years! I had always grown up knowing volleyball since my older cousin and role model played but I had never personally played until gym class in middle school where I really liked it and wanted to try out for a club team.
What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What’s your favorite position to play?
I’m 5’10, I have a 31 inch vertical, I play right side hitter for high school and Princeton Volleyball Club 17-1’s. I like playing right side because I’m left handed so it gives me some advantage, but I also really love playing back-row!
Tell us about your Pirate teammates. Who do you expect will be this year’s standout and up and coming players?
The Pirate girls are a special team with a lot of talent. We are really, truly a family and we love each other and work well with each other. Seeing that we had no seniors on varsity last year and we made it to semi-finals last year, I see our team as a real threat coming into this season. Along with me, Alisa Vukovic, senior outside hitter and our captain, and Sibana Gonzalez, sophomore outside hitter should be on the radars of our competitors.
NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state. Do you plan to play volleyball at the college level, and if so, which ones are you looking at?
I do plan to play volleyball in college. I have looked at schools such as Utah State, Providence, Bryant University, and Smith College!
WWPS had an outstanding season last year finishing 21-7 and the team had no seniors. You return your entire varsity squad from last season. What is your expectation for this years squad?
The expectations of our team is high, we all know the pressure’s on and we’re ready to bring it! I expect us to blow away the competition this year because all of us have been training hard in preparation for our second season all together.
You had amazing numbers last year as a sophomore, enough to lead many other high school teams in the state with 147 kills, 22 blocks, 107 digs, and 29 aces. Is it tough to share the spotlight with players like Sibana Gonzalez and Alisa Vukovic on the attack?
Not at all! Both of them are like my sister on and off the court! They are both also such amazing players that bring their own strengths to the table just as I do. I welcome such high levels of talent and competition during practice. They help me be a better player by challenging me everyday. I’m so grateful to have such a star-studded team!
Can you tell us about your best memories from your sophomore year season?
By far, my best memory from this season was beating Princeton High School, our self-proclaimed volleyball rival, in a close, three set game. It was the first time since before I went to south that we had beat them and I had winning point!
What are your personal goals for the 2021 spring season?
While I know our season is going to be short and very different this year, I hope to improve on my back-row playing and communication on the court! Although I’m always looking for ways to improve in all aspects of my game!
Which player last season was the toughest competitor that you faced and why?
Gillian Hauschild from PHS. She was a left-handed opposite hitter just like me except 6ft and a powerhouse of a player. She’s amazing and definitely challenged everyone on my team when we played her.
Who is your support group?
My mom and my team. My mom has taken me to every practice, game, tournament and cheers me on no matter what. She knows how to get me pumped and inspire me or calm me down before I have to play. My team is my family on the court and they are always there, after every point, loss, win they are there with me to celebrate or console and I think thats pretty special.
What is your favorite inspirational video or music that you like to watch or listen to before games?
This might sound funny but I listen to 80’s music before I play! It pumps me up and distracts me from the pre-game jitters! Plus its so much fun to rock out to!
What are your other hobbies or interests?
I love painting and art. I snowboard and ski. I love playing with my dog Patch! I also have a job that keeps me busy.
What do you plan to study in college or what is your career path?
I plan to enter into interior design for college. I love designing rooms and remodeling mine every once in awhile and for me besides playing volleyball it the most fun I have.
Who is your favorite college or pro volleyball player and why?
Kathryn Plummer and Kendall White. Kathryn Plummer is arguably one of the best hitters in college volleyball now and I look up to her a lot. She has a powerful swing but also is very crafty with her placement of the ball. Kendall White is fearless. She goes for every ball, she puts in 100% every game, and never gives up. I aspire to play the way she does.
Is there a teacher or coach who really helped you along the way?
Jeff and Nancy Yasalonis. They’ve been my coaches for two years now and I owe it to them that I am the player and person I am today. They don’t just make sure my playing is on point but my mental health, and compassion is just as on point. They are constantly pushing me and my club team to go above and beyond and exceed every expectation because they know we can. They inspire me everyday to be better in every way. I don’t know where I would be without them.