Girls volleyball: Barrington's Meitzler named Cook All-Area Captain
As a freshman, during the shortened COVID-19 season, Barrington senior Jenna Meitzler was just grateful to be playing volleyball at the high school level and with new teammates.
"I was still adapting to the sport and I was over-the-moon happy to be there, in the presence of such great volleyball players," she said.
Well, guess what?
Four years later, as a 6-foot outside hitter/setter, she became one of those great players and a shining star in the Fillies' alignment which saw them reach the Class 4A final four for the third straight year. They brought home two third-place trophy and a fourth place last weekend.
"It never occurred to me that I would be one of them until I started to develop such a passion and drive for the sport while growing up in the Barrington program," Meitzler said. "Truthfully, I could not be where I am without my teammates and the upperclassmen who believed in me and showed me the importance of being a good teammate. They were my role models and helped me both envision it and to become one of the top players in the state."
Meitzler's valuable contributions as a setter and outside hitter this fall enabled her to be selected as the Captain of the 2023-24 Daily Herald Cook County All-Area Girls Volleyball Team.
The 5-foot-10 senior played in every set during the Fillies' 35-7 banner season, registering 281 assists, 276 kills, 154 digs, 66 blocks and 46 aces.
Her accomplishments, which included being part of three straight Mid-Suburban League championship teams, were hardly a surprise to Fillies coach Michelle Jakubowski.
"I knew that Jenna had the ability and work ethic to become whatever she wanted to do, she said. "It was all due to her hard work and dedication to the sport and to her teammates."
That dedication began, no doubt, started with her family support.
"In all honesty, I wouldn't be here without my family and especially my parents," Jenna said. "My dad always tells me before I play to "Be Jenna" and it is something I will carry on to every aspect of my life."
Her parents have been there through every win and loss since she started playing sports.
"They have taught me humility, perseverance, respect, and how to be a great teammate and person," Meitzler said. "There is no one else I would want on my side more than my parents and my family. They have made me who I am and continue to leave impactful imprints on my life."
Her next big step after she graduates from Barrington will be playing volleyball and studying at the University of Iowa.
"I am both thrilled and grateful for the opportunities at Iowa," she said. "I am eager to be a part of a growing program at such a competitive school in a sport that continues to grow by the minute. I'm ready to step up my game, keep raising the bar as a player, and see how I can push myself as an individual and as an athlete."
She is considering a major in pre-law or business and a minor in journalism, creative writing, psychology or economics.
"I have struggled to choose a major," she said. "There are so many great academic choices at Iowa and I am still debating between them. I'm beyond grateful for the coaching staff at Iowa, which has put faith in me to advance their program, and I can't wait to start."
Meitzler says her success starts with faith.
"Having faith in myself and the process," she explained. "The ability to believe in yourself, and trust in the work you put in every day plays such an important role in becoming a great teammate and having others around you trust you. When I started to build my confidence and believe in the work I put in, even when I couldn't see it, is when I took a big step in my volleyball career. To this day, it is still something I continue to work at in order to keep raising the bar for my teammates and myself."
Jakubowski loved Meitzler's leadership among teammates.
"Jenna's willingness to play any position on the court and as a teammate she is one of the first in the gym to help put the net up and always willing to do the little things," Jakubowski said. "She puts her team before herself."
When she puts on the Iowa jersey, Meitzler won't feel like a stranger in Iowa City.
"My mother lived in Iowa growing up and got her master's at the University of Iowa," Jenna said. "I have such a supportive family presence in Iowa and around the midwest, a lot of people who happen to be very strong Iowa Hawkeye fans. When I was growing up, they always pushed for me to go to school there so they could come see me at games. To actually be playing at Iowa is such a blessing that I am so very grateful for and ready to take on as a player and as a future Hawkeye."
And Meitzler will miss being part of the Barrington family.
"It will forever hold a special place in my heart," she said. "I will never forget both the amazing and supportive coaching staff, my teammates and coach Jakubowski, who has seen me grow as a player and taught me so much both on and off the court."
One thing Meitzler will always remember is the team-building activities during the preseason.
"l always loved them," she said "This year we went paddle boarding to represent the importance of "riding the wave" and the ability to get up and find a new wave after we fall or lose our balance. And, looking beyond the meaning of it all, it is such a comforting feeling to do something with the people you have essentially grown up with in the program. You've been through thick and thin with them and just enjoy being with each other."
Meitzler credits Jakubowski for a lot of her success.
"Coach Jakubowski has been such an advocate of us girls growing not only as volleyball players, but as loving, independent, and supportive young women," Meitzler said. "And during these team buildings, I can truly see my teammates as not just volleyball players but as individuals who I am grateful to call my family. I full-heartedly believe they will all go and do such amazing things in life like the current alumni are doing."
And you can now add Meitzler to that celebrated alumni group.