Aspen’s Walter sisters to reunite this fall at Carleton College
July 25, 2009
ASPEN – The Walters are making it a sister act.
Elissa Walter, the dynamic former Aspen High outside hitter who burst onto the scene last fall, has decided to play volleyball at Division III Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. She’ll join a familiar face on the hardwood this coming season: Sister Kyla, who will be entering her junior year with the Knights.
Their oldest sister, Teagan, graduated from Carleton this spring. But while family ties to the school, one with an enrollment of about 1,750, run deep, Elissa Walter said Friday that was far from the deciding factor.
“I love the school because of the liberal arts atmosphere, I loved the campus and the programs,” she added. “I’m glad to have my sister on the same team, but that really didn’t weigh into my decision.
“When it came to campus visits and talking to the coaches, it really seemed like the best fit for me.”
The Knights are getting a player who dominated the 3A Western Slope in 2008. Walter piled up 277 kills – including 36 in a match against Olathe in September – and also led the team with 260 digs.
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Her transformation from role player to dominating force helped Aspen earn a playoff berth a year after winning just three games.
Walter’s emergence was staggering, Skiers head coach Clayton Dahlman said this week.
“She came out of her club experience and into her senior year and I think she had been tucked away as a younger player in previous years,” he added. “Boy, she came back and was so explosive. The difference was so dramatic … She was just too powerful, too dominant in this league.”
During her junior year, Walter started contacting coaches at Division II and III schools – “Athletes know coaches aren’t going to be coming to them,” she said. She engaged in substantive talks with the College of Wooster and Kenyon College – both in Ohio – as well as Middlebury College in Vermont and Colorado College.
Around that time, Walter met Carleton head coach Heidi Luehmann Jaynes while playing with her Front Range club team at the Northen Lights Volleyball Tournament in Minneapolis.
“She did express an interest in me,” said Walter, who subsequently sent Luehmann Jaynes a few highlight videos. “She said I could be an asset to the team. At the same time, being a great coach, she told me some things I could improve on. She thought she could help me become a better player.”
Walter liked what she heard – both from the coach and from her sister.
“She loves all the girls on the team, loves the coach and said playing really adds to the college experience,” Walter said. “Kyla said it really helped her as a freshman because she knew people and was comfortable on campus.”
Walter, who has already met many Knights players, is certain she will fit in off the court. On the court, however, things are not quite as clear-cut. Luehmann Jaynes told Walters she envisions the young player primarily contributing on the defensive end – at least initially.
Walter, who adapted to a variety of roles while playing for a competitive club team, said she is looking forward to the challenge.
“I really enjoy being as front-row player, but I understand that genetically, my height is against me,” added the 5-foot-9 Walter. “Playing for highly competitive club teams for three years, I played a different role for them as well. I was used to finding out where I fit.
“I just want to do what I can to help the team.”
Practices begin in late August.
“I’m excited,” Walter said. “For years I’ve been driving three hours three or four times a week [to club practices and tournaments]. I’m glad all that hard work paid off.”
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