Girls volleyball: Stevenson's Mija Jegers named Lake All-Area Captain
According to Stevenson coach Tim Crow, one of the finest traits of Patriots standout Mija Jegers is that she was always celebrating her teammates.
During a 31-8 season that included a North Suburban Conference co-co-championship and the program's 12th sectional title, the Patriots had plenty to celebrate.
And Jegers was a key reason for that success.
The 5-foot-10 senior outside hitter led the Pats in kills (366) and aces (76 aces) this fall and for her efforts represents the Daily Herald Lake County All-Area team as its Captain.
The future Iona Gael also collected 234 digs.
"I have been so lucky to be a part of this team," she said. "We were so close which is why we have been so successful. Although we came up a little short, I know we all played our hearts out for each other, everyone was always supporting each other. So grateful for all my teammates and friends."
Crow is grateful to have coached Jegers, who also led the Pats in kills and digs as a junior.
"Mija is a very skilled and athletic player," he said. "She has excellent ball control and has natural instincts on the court. She has a heavy arm and has the ability to attack from every position on the court."
Improving those skills and having fun were Jegers' goal from the outset.
"But as a freshman, I didn't imagine how much I could grow," she admitted. "My freshman year (COVID) was short and very restricted, but I tried my best to make the most of it."
As a sophomore, Jegers played on the same team as Amanda Holsen, who now plays at Columbia University in New York.
"She was one of my biggest role models and led me in a direction of how to be a good teammate and player," Jegers said. "I devoted a lot of time to my game and my team so I can push myself and my team to success.
"I am very grateful for my opportunities and my self improvement. I know the 'freshman me' would be so proud and impressed by the player I have become."
Jegers became one of the premier players in the state the last two years to move her forward to a Division 1 career.
"I am so excited to get on the court with my coaches and teammates at Iona," she said. "After my visit and meeting everyone I felt it was the perfect fit for me academically and athletically. I can't wait to take my play to the next level."
She plans a double major in criminal justice and psychology.
"My dream job is to work in the FBI," Jegers said. "I have been interested in pursuing this path, because I've always wanted to help people and make people feel safer in this world."
She's already had a world of fun playing volleyball at Stevenson.
"I could've never gotten to where I am right now without the Stevenson girls volleyball program." she added. "Ever since I stepped onto the court my freshman year, I felt an overwhelming sense of support from my coaches (Crow and Allison Fink). They have supported me and pushed me to be the best player that I could be.
"I also own a huge thank you to my teammates, because without them I couldn't succeed and become who I am today. They are my biggest fans and biggest role models and I am so grateful that I was able to share the court with them everyday. Lastly, my parents have been a huge reason for my success, as they have supported me unconditionally and been there for me since day one."
Her mother (formerly Kristina Dzelme) played at New Trier as a freshman before moving to California where she graduated from Monte Vista High School in Danville. She was a middle hitter in high school and at the University of Wyoming, wearing the same No. 9 as Mija.
"My mom has always been my biggest role model," said Jegers, who started out playing soccer and wearing her mother's No. 9 in that sport. "It wasn't until my mom showed me the pictures and articles of when she played in college that I decided I wanted to start playing volleyball."
Kristen never forced Mija to play volleyball.
"But I chose to start playing in the fifth grade," Mija said. "For years, I played both soccer and volleyball but in seventh grade I decided to focus on volleyball. Even to this day I idolize how my mom played in college and continue to use her as a motivation to keep pushing myself. She has been my biggest inspiration and supporter with everything but especially volleyball. It has been great to have someone who knows the game so well and gone through the same process. I have loved to have her by my side and watch me become the athlete I am today, it has been a fun journey together."
A journey that even included being a part of Crow's 600th career win last month. Knowing how Jegers like to celebrate other people's success, it should be no surprise that her favorite high school moment was Crown reaching the milestone.
"It was an incredible memory and I am so grateful that I was able to celebrate with him and my team," she said. "It was an unforgettable game where we rallied together to not just play for ourselves but for Crow. Everything was connecting so well and we all had a great time while playing. I couldn't be more proud of my team and of Crow for this incredible achievement."
Just like Crow's appreciation of Jegers and all her accomplishments.
"It's just her love for the game of volleyball that has made Mija the player she has become," he said. "She was exposed to the sport from her mother playing at Wyoming. She is a great competitor and was all-in with the sport."