Area volleyball teams didn’t get to compete this spring, but that didn’t diminish Tommy Cassel’s appreciation for his Pennridge teammates.
“Our team this spring was my favorite of all the years in high school,” he said. “Our senior class, especially, had grown together as a family.”
Cassel’s passion for the sport comes through on the court.
“What I like the best about volleyball is the joy it brings me to compete,” he said. “I love to set whenever I’m given the opportunity to and getting to see the positive reaction from my teammates after giving them a ball they can put away is so satisfying to me.”
Goal-driven >> It was to be a transition year for Cassel, but one that played to his strengths.
“Tommy set last season but moved to the outside this year,” Rams coach Dave Childs said, as the move presented both its own set of challenges and rewards.
“Being moved to an outside hitter has had its difficulties,” Cassel said. “I’m not the tallest guy on the court and have never had the highest vertical.
“So for me, I had to get more technical with where I would hit the ball and have more of a vision for the court than most outsides that can spring up in the air and just pound the ball home.”
Cassel had adapted.
“As much as I love setting, hitting does have some satisfaction to it when the sets are there,” he said. “I’ll never say I don’t enjoy being an outside and getting to hit around or through blocks but it is a big change from what I’m used to.
“A goal that I had for this season was to perform better than last season. So I wanted to show improvement and play in a new position to prove to people I can help wherever necessary to the team.”
Keeping busy >> With not much volleyball going on, Cassel kept his legs moving in other ways.
“I have not been able to do much practicing during this time. The only volleyball playing I’ve done is peppering with my older brother that’s playing for Cairn University,” he said. “The lockdown has allowed for me to get back into some old habits such as running. I also play soccer and I love to run 5k’s and hopefully longer distances like half marathons or full marathons in the future and having this time to get back outside and just run has been very nice and gives me something to do.
“I run with my brother and sister and I’m surprised as to how much better they have gotten from where they were at the start of this time. Very neat to experience.”
Special place >> Cassel savored his time with the Rams.
“What makes playing for Pennridge special is our coach and the atmosphere he created for players like our senior class this year,” Cassel said. “I have so much respect for a coach that had a consistent district- and state-competing team for many years prior.
“And the players we have at Pennridge have the energy, drive, and positivity to make this program successful.”
Cassel’s days on the court aren’t over.
“I do hope to play in the upcoming years at Grove City College on their club team,” he said. “(Pennridge teammate) Andrew Bergey and I will get to continue playing with each other for the next few years there.”