The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

Watch Out IHSA, There’s a New Freshman on The Rise: Claire Stewart

Claire Stewart in the midst of warming up before a game.

Freshman Claire Stewart has made history by being one of the very few freshmen to make the Niles West Girls Varsity volleyball team. In addition to familiarizing herself with high school life and balancing her academics in a new environment, she’s also been a key factor in the team’s success this past season, as they won the conference. The girls junior varsity and both girls freshmen teams won the conference as well.

Varsity head coach Stacy Roth spoke a little bit about this unusual occurrence and Claire’s overall impact on the team.

“Since I came to Niles West straight out of college, I’ve actually been coaching volleyball for the past 23 years and have been the varsity coach for 20 of those years. In my time here, it hasn’t been the first time a freshman has made varsity, and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but it is no way a common occurrence. Varsity takes the very best and making the varsity team, regardless of your grade, is a huge accomplishment. We noticed Claire’s skill in summer camp; she noticeably has a high level of skill, determination and work ethic, especially for her age. At first, even though it was a challenge to do so, she had to get used to the speed and intensity of the game, which she accomplished quickly. She actually ended up on the starting lineup for the team towards the middle of the season, alternating between playing the right side and outside hitter,” Roth said.

The past season has been very meaningful and worthwhile to Stewart, who is excited about her future in Niles West volleyball.
“I’m really proud of myself for making varsity as a freshman. I’m also really proud of myself for making it to the starting lineup during the season. Even though the atmosphere is different and it’s more competitive and the other girls get really competitive sometimes, I still have always felt welcomed within the group, the players and the coaches. It’s also really helped me grow as a player since I’m now more used to the competition. I’m excited for the games and competitions to come in the next couple of seasons,” Stewart said.
Mia Niketic, a senior on the varsity team along with Claire, has grown close to Stewart this past season.

“Claire is such a great teammate and player. She was like our little sister on the team. I’m glad I got to play with her my senior year and hope she accomplishes so much [during] her high school career,” Niketic said.

Not only was Claire instrumental to the varsity team’s success, but Roth also believes she was a catalyst for the success of all the other girls volleyball teams: junior varsity and both of the freshmen teams.

“The three other freshmen on junior varsity and both the full freshmen teams saw Claire’s determination, drive and skill. It made them want to be better and made us all want to put more into the game. I’m extremely excited to have her on my team for the next three years and eager to see all the progress she’ll make,” Roth said.

A major shout-out to the girls varsity, junior varsity and both freshmen teams for all winning in their respective conferences. Another major shout-out to Claire Stewart, as her relentless drive and passion for volleyball motivated many others to strive for the best.

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