Jamie Whalen has changed schools and changed positions, but her commitment to volleyball has not wavered.
The Whale Branch junior has helped the Warriors to an undefeated start in Region 5-A. She wants to play in college but, first, she and the Warriors would like to make some noise in the Class 1-A volleyball playoffs.
Whalen has played volleyball since the third grade, eventually venturing into club competition. She played for Battery Creek, beginning as an eighth-grader, before Whale Branch opened.
She recently talked to The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet about the Warriors' season and her love of the game.
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Question: How have you guys been playing?
Answer: I think we're doing really good this season. We're still undefeated in region. We only lost to Hilton Head this year. And I think we get to redeem ourselves when they come to Whale Branch to play us again.
Q: You guys are ranked in the top 10 in Class A. Do you guys talk about that much?
A: We haven't talked about it. We didn't know.
Q: Do you guys feel pretty good about where you are in region play?
A: Yeah, I think so. Since we have five seniors this year. I think this is our year. I think we know that. So we're working extra hard.
Q: Being a young school, you guys have a year under your belt playing together. What's the difference been like this year from last year?
A: I think we learned what our weak spots are from last year and are working on them this year. We know what we had to fix from last year. And I think we've gotten a lot stronger.
Q: What's better this year?
A: I think our offense, hitting front row and everything. I think we've been really strong in that.
Q: You've been playing a long time. When did you start?
A: I've played off and on since third grade. I started getting serious with club ball and everything around sixth grade.
Q: Which club team do you play with?
A: These last couple years, I've been playing with Beaufort Volleyball Club. But I think we might try to go to Lowcountry, but we're not sure. There's three or four girls on Whale Branch I've been playing with.
Q: In your second year as a school, what do you think opponents expect of Whale Branch?
A: I think we've surprised people with our skills and how experienced we are. For how young we were last year with no seniors, I think we did pretty well, experience-wise. We went to the third round of the playoffs and we lost to Johnsonville. So hopefully we'll make it further this year.
Q: So what's the goal this year?
A: We're really trying to go for state. We've seen most of our competition now, and we know what we're up against. We're working on our weak spots.
Q: What are you working on?
A: Our passes are really crucial right now. That's usually what we're working on during practices.
Q: Is volleyball something you'd like to do in college?
A: That's how I want to get to college. We've looked at a couple of schools. My dad's starting to video tape my games. I've gone to a couple of college games. We've been to an S.C. State. We talked to the coach at S.C. State and the players after the game. That's what we usually try to do, is at least talk to the coach.
Q: What position do you play?
A: I switch from middle and outside and I play back row, too. Ever since I got to Whale Branch, I've been playing middle a little bit more. It was a lot different. I'm more comfortable playing outside, but as the year goes on -- I like hitting middle, but for college I think I'd like to try outside.
Q: So what adjustments did you make to switch?
A: It's a lot more moving. You have to help out the two outsides with blocking. It's a lot more work. I like it now. I don't mind.