A class of her own
One is the usually loneliest number, but that's not the case for Arizona volleyball.
Take a second generation Wildcat, mix in inherited athletic genes and a passion for volleyball, and you have freshman outside hitter Ellen Querrey.
A rarity in college sports, she stands as the only member of the freshman class on the 2009 Arizona volleyball team.
Because the Wildcats had promised scholarships to other returning players, financial issues arose this year, said Arizona head volleyball coach Dave Rubio.
While the team atmosphere certainly lessens the separation between the classes, Querrey is still a small fish in a big pond. Even though she loves both the game and the team, the situation for the California Interscholastic Federation All-American can be difficult at times.
""It's definitely more hectic because there are four hours of the day where I could be studying and hanging out, but I'm practicing,"" Querrey said about balancing time while being a college athlete.
In addition to getting herself acclimated to college life and classes, Querrey must learn the system and style of Arizona volleyball. Since there are no other freshmen to go through the process with her, Querrey's situation is both a blessing and a curse.
""She doesn't have someone going through the same trials and tribulations as she is currently going through,"" Rubio said.
While she is unaccompanied in terms of class, the experience Querrey is gaining promises to be beneficial. Querrey has some excellent players to learn from. With juniors Tiffany Owens and Whitney Dosty as her mentors, the freshman will certainly be taught well.
Luckily for Querrey, volleyball is a team sport. Rubio said her teammates like her attitude on and off the court.
""I feel really lucky because they're really good. Coach Rubio and all the other coaches are very welcoming and fun,"" said Querrey of the support she has received from Arizona volleyball staff. ""If I don't understand how to do something, everyone's really patient and they support me.""
She also wasn't alone in her decision to play volleyball in Tucson. The 5-foot-11 Thousand Oaks, Calif., native was a standout in volleyball in high school and had ties to Tucson in the form of her parents, who are both alumni.
""It was a big part of the reason I came,"" Querrey said about her decision to follow her parents' legacy at Arizona. ""I knew about the school, obviously through them, and they said it was fun. I came to visit, went to a football game, and I liked it.""
Her father, Mike Querrey, was drafted by the Detroit Tigers, but turned down that opportunity to play college ball for the Wildcats. He earned a letter in 1981.
Even though she is technically a walk-on, that doesn't mean Querrey won't be a big impact for the Wildcats.
""We were pretty fortunate to get a quality player and person,"" Rubio said when asked about Querrey's future. ""She, I think, with time, will be really helpful and will contribute.""
One advantage of being the only freshman and the only walk-on is that she gets to travel with the team. The freshman rounds out the Wildcats' squad to an even 14 players and provides some depth for Arizona's bench.
""The fact that she gets to travel, … she's a bona fide member of the team,"" said Rubio. ""If we had other walk-ons maybe we wouldn't travel the walk-ons, but we only have one.""
The experiences with the team this year will no doubt give her the familiarity and understanding that a veteran player needs. Although this year's team is anchored in the junior and sophomore classes, there will come a time when Querrey will stand alone at the top of the food chain.
For now, she will have time to learn the system and take advantage of being the only recipient of the veteran player's knowledge.
She'll have her time to shine, and plus — she'll never have to share senior night.