Palatine senior girls volleyball standout Taylor Fricano is living proof of living by the phrase, "If at first you don't succeed, try again."
And in Fricano's case, try a third time.
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She did not make the seventh and eighth grade girls volleyball teams at Sundling Junior High in Palatine.
However, Fricano's basketball coach at Sundling, Rich Stocker, who she calls the "greatest basketball coach out there," had other ideas for Fricano's future.
"My inspiring and motivating junior high basketball coach, who I hold dear to my heart and give so much respect to, persisted to tell me to try out for volleyball," Fricano said. "When I didn't make the teams (at Sundling) he told me to do volleyball camps and get better. I was extremely hesitant.
"But he talked me and my mom into putting me into the freshman summer volleyball camp at Palatine High School. That changed everything."
Freshman Palatine girls volleyball coach Mike Campbell saw the potential in the 6-foot Fricano, and the rest is history.
She rapidly improved her game for three years and before her senior season, Fricano made a verbal commitment to play for Dayton, where she may study psychology or law.
"It was that camp and that motivation from coach Stocker that gave me the chance that changed my life," Fricano said. "I made the freshman A team, thanks to the great eye for potential that belonged to coach Campbell. But the main reason I started playing volleyball was solely due to my fantastic junior high basketball coach, Rich Stocker. I cannot thank him enough for all he's done for me. He pushed me to try new things and kindled the fire."
Fricano, the leading attacker for Palatine's volleyball team which won its first MSL divisional crown since 1997, credits her parents for investing so much time and money into her volleyball career.
"God knows that club volleyball isn't cheap, and the traveling is exhausting, but they continued to support me through and through," she said. "I will be forever in debt to them. My club coaches Greg Bruns, (sophomore year club coach for Sky High 16 white), and Chas Kennedy (club coach for Sky High 17 black) helped me improve so much in my playing and attitude and the Sky High Volleyball program itself is incredible."
Once at Palatine, Fricano said her junior varsity coach Joyce Richardson brought a whole new environment to the game of volleyball.
"Being with her team was unreal," Fricano said. "And finally my varsity coach (Dan Gavin) goes above and beyond the program itself. He is motivational, inspirational, and genuine. Not only does he coach me in volleyball but in life as well. He is always there for me in the darkest hour, which is greatly appreciated. I can never thank these people enough because what they've done for me over the years is unbelievable."
Fricano looks forward to spending her college years with the Dayton coaching staff.
"They were so personal and genuine in the recruiting process," she said. "I would receive handwritten letters day after day, along with emails asking me how I'm doing, what's going on in my life, and asking me to call them so they can talk to me about it. They are also incredibly smart when it comes to the game of volleyball."
The Flyers' record has improved each year under coach Kelly Sheffield.
"They're on their way up and I'm jumping on board," Fricano said.
The Ohio campus is about a five-hour drive from Palatine, and that was an important factor for Fricano.
"I'm Italian, so family is a big part of my life," she said. "Being close to home is precious to me."
And Fricano felt at home on the campus.
"When I was there, walking around on campus, I felt safe," she said. "I felt at home. It's small enough to not get lost but big enough to meet new people every day. Also, the campus has buildings that are so beautiful, old and timeless. But the biggest thing for me is definitely the feeling of being at home, and safe."
When Fricano made her first visit to Dayton, she didn't realize didn't grasp the importance the players on the team would be in her decision.
"I failed to realize that these would be the girls I would spend one to four years of my life with," she said. "So on my second visit, I stayed with Angel Agu (middle blocker) and hung out with her and the team as much as possible. They are great people. Amazing.
"They're fun and they love to have a good time. I then went to a practice with them and watched -- and that's when I saw how dedicated and motivated they all were to getting better. They're all ambitious and goal-oriented. They all have the massive desire to win and that sold me."
In addition to Dayton, Fricano also visited Illinois and UCLA.
"They were the 3 schools I was looking at most seriously," Fricano said. "I had kept Dayton waiting on me for a year and a half before I committed there. That also made me happy -- the fact that they would wait a year and a half for me to commit really hit me hard. They wanted me that much."
2012 Fall Nike Clinic
Maine West girls basketball coach Derril Kipp will be a featured speaker at the 2012 Fall Nike Championship High School Basketball Clinic at Glenbrook North High School from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Sunday.
The Nike Championship Basketball Clinic features coaches from 14 states in the three-day clinic beginning Friday. Registration begins Friday at 4 p.m., or you can register online at basketballcoach.com
Former Mid-Suburban League girls golf champion Rachel Mia Kaim (Elk Grove) completed Sunday's Chicago Marathon in 4:51. Kaim is a junior at Illinois where she is a James Scholar and on the dean's list. She is double majoring in clinical psychology and French.
Millikin quarterback Matt Holmes (Wheeling) was 24-33-1 passing for 257 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also ran for 108 yards in a 34-33 overtime loss to No. 14 Illinois Wesleyan. The Big Blue is 3-1, 0-1
• Sophomore Justin Wallace (Fremd) rushed 17 times for 96 yards and 3 touchdowns and had 2 receptions for 24 yards as he helped to lead MIT (3-2) to a 28-7 victory over PlymouthState.
Men's cross country
Missouri freshman Tyler Schneider (Conant) finished 27th in the prestigious 31 team Greater Louisville Classic. Tyler finished the 8K in a time of 24:23.54 and was named SEC Cross Country Freshman of the Week.
Schneider's outstanding race not only earned him a 66-second improvement from his Mizzou debut at Iowa State but he was also the third freshman across the line.
Women's cross country
• Notre Dame senior Rebecca Tracy (Barrington) finished first in the 34 team National Catholic Championships held at Notre Dame on Sept. 14. Tracy ran a personal best 5K time of 17:11.8.
North Central junior Jake Muszczynski (Rolling Meadows), scored the final goal in the 80th minute on a penalty kick when the Cardinals defeated Elmhurst 3-0. It was the Cardinals' first victory over Elmhurst since they started their program in 2004.
The St. Viator Junior Lions are holding boys feeder tryouts on Oct. 27 and Nov. 4 for sixth to eighth grades. Go to St. Viator's website for details or contact Joe Rooney, Boys Feeder Director, at 630.202.0302 or at LITERAL121@juno.com.
• The Hersey Girls Feeder Basketball program will hold tryouts on Nov. 4 for all interested players in the Hersey attendance area.
All tryouts are in the East gym at Hersey. Times are: eighth grade from 4:30 to 6 p.m.; seventh grade 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and sixth grade from 7:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. (Callbacks or a second tryout may be conducted on Nov. 11). Further questions should go to coach Robert Pihl at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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