Volleyball phenom commits to Minnesota
July 20, 2011 | 08:38 AMWilliams Bay — In volleyball, a couple of inches can mean the difference between a pulse-pounding spike and a devastating block.
Well, inches are something Williams Bay resident Ciara Capezio has plenty of, 75 to be exact.
The 16-year-old volleyball phenom has used her 6-foot-3 frame to her advantage as an outside hitter for the Burlington Demons and the Milwaukee Sting at the club level.
An incoming junior at Burlington, Capezio earned Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association all-state honorable mention her first two years of high school volleyball.
In March, Capezio made it official — she verbally committed to Division 1 University of Minnesota for a five-year volleyball scholarship.
On Friday, the Regional News caught up with Ciara and her mother, Sara Schadewald, at their Williams Bay home to discuss earning a scholarship at such a young age, future academic goals and volunteering for people with special needs.
RN: Tell me about your full ride to Minnesota.
CC: I verbally committed, but I can't sign until senior year. We communicated with them a while before March, and they will be having a new coach when I go there in 2013. When we knew who the coach was going to be, I was really interested.
RN: When did the recruiting process begin?
SS: People have been sending Ciara letters since she was 14, but she actually started making phone calls last fall.
RN: What was so attractive about Minnesota?
CC: The city is great. Their volleyball team is really good, too. The program is nice for women's sports.
RN: Who else recruited you?
CC: Florida State, LSU, South Carolina, North Carolina State and Indiana.
RN: What went through your mind when you committed?
CC: I was so happy I didn't have to worry about college anymore. Calling coaches was not fun. But you also don't know what it feels like to fill out all those college applications.
RN: How have you gotten all this college attention at such a young age?
SS: It started with her 15s (15-year-old) team, I thought it was a little young. We waited until her sophomore year before we started pursuing it.
RN: When did you know you wanted to play college ball?
CC: I always wanted to play in college. Volleyball is my life. I can't just stop. I just love it.
SS: Since she could walk and talk, we've been batting the ball around. She's always loved it. Ciara started club in fifth grade. She also plays soccer and basketball, but volleyball is No. 1.
RN: Why do you live in Williams Bay and attend Burlington?
CC: One, Burlington's volleyball program is very strong. Two, the Bay is too small competition-wise.
SS: At Williams Bay, you grow up with a small-town stigma. It follows you from year to year. She needed to branch out, and Burlington was actually the best move for her. It really worked out well.
RN: How is the competition at Burlington in the Southern Lakes Conference?
CC: We're really strong. We went to state my first two years. We only lost one girl from last year, but we still have a setter.
RN: What position do you play?
CC: I play outside hitter, and I will play that at Minnesota. I'm the tallest girl on my team now, but I will be average height at Minnesota.
RN: Beside Burlington, what club team do you play for?
CC: I play for the Milwaukee Sting. I will be on the 17s this year. Club is a big reason I received a college scholarship.
High school season is during college season, so colleges most likely won't see you. Colleges see you during club play.
In club, there is more of a college-type competition.
RN: When you arrive at Minnesota in 2013, you will have coach Hugh McCutcheon, the current U.S. Women's Olympic coach. Why do you like McCutcheon?
CC: With him being the women's Olympic coach, we know he'll be good. He will teach and really use discipline.
RN: What kind of goals do you have for playing at Minnesota and beyond?
CC: I want to start right away. After college, it would be nice to play in the Olympics. I will play until I can't.
SS: McCutcheon can help the girls decide where they want to play.
RN: How is school going for you?
CC: Math is my favorite subject. Burlington gives you a lot of choices. If you don't want to take something there, you can go to Gateway. This year, I got As and Bs, so I get good grades.
RN: Are you working anywhere?
CC: No, but I volunteer at Special Olympics (Delavan) and VIP in Elkhorn. I want to be a special education teacher, and it helps. I have three uncles who have special needs, so I grew up with it. Working with them makes me smile, just being around them is fun.
RN: In 15 years, what do you want to be doing?
CC: I want to be teaching maybe back in Burlington. Or even Lakeland School.
RN: Who has been your biggest inspiration through the years?
CC: My mom. She goes to all my games and pays for all my extra-curriculars. She keeps pushing me.
RN: Why do you love volleyball compared to your other sports?
CC: It makes me happiest out there when I hit a girl in the face with a spike. Hitting is my favorite.
RN: What are some goals for the rest of your high school career?
CC: In high school, I want to win state. In club, I want to win nationals. Also, I want to improve my blocking.