BY BARBARA ANNE GREENE
To say Riverside High School senior Sabrina Taylor is excited to be invited to participate in a volleyball event in Honolulu would be an understatement.
Taylor received a letter from NoKaOi Volleyball in December, informing her that she had been invited to participate at the event held July 10-17.
The letter continued: “This opportunity is only extended to a select group of athletes from around the county.” It also noted that 15-20 college volleyball coaches from across the USA would be coaching the teams.
The event was started in 1999, according to NoKaOi director Joel Hill. He said college coaches that have seen the players play submit volleyball player’s names. The coaches could have been on a scouting trip or watching at a tournament.
NoKaOi is an organization whose sole purpose is to offer high school athletes and college coaches the opportunity to travel to some of the world’s most exciting destinations while at the same time participating in the game they love.
One of the biggest benefits, Hill said, is that it will give the high school students a pre-college experience.
“It’s like the first day of school. You meet new classmates, roommates and teammates. In some cases in a few hours you’re traveling, rooming and playing together,” said Hill. The teams will be doing team-building activities throughout the week.
Another benefit is the chance to meet and be coached by college-level coaches. Of course spending a week in Hawaii is a great benefit, but Hill said they don’t end there.
“As an added bonus we will arrange on-campus college visits for the players. The visits will take place in spring of 2018,” Hill said. “If the players haven’t started the recruiting process yet; this will help get things moving for them.”
Taylor has hopes for playing college volleyball. She has already looked at colleges with great volleyball programs. She hopes to get scholarships to play.
“I love playing volleyball,” she said.
Her mother Viola, sister Eva and grandparents Bernadine and Delmar Taylor are pretty excited too. Her mother has already called and talked to the event organizers.
“I think this is a wonderful opportunity for her to network with coaches at the college level. One of her goals is to play for a college,” Viola said. “I love that our community is rallying around her both with encouragement and financial support.” Sarah McKim, who coached Taylor during the 2017 high school volleyball season, spoke glowingly of Taylor.
“The NoKaOi volleyball camp would be an amazing opportunity for Sabrina. She has expressed interest in going on to compete at the college level, and this is a great way for her to get competitive exposure in her sport, and network with college coaches,” McKim said. “It would be awesome to send her to represent our community and our team. I really hope she is able to raise the funds to go on this trip.”
In addition to playing school sports, Taylor has played AAU volleyball and attended volleyball clinics.
Last year 85 students from throughout Wyoming were invited. Not all participated. One of the reasons may be cost. The student/ player needs $2,995 for the trip. That price includes airfare, six nights accommodations, a charter bus tour and a luau. This year, 27 athletes from Wyoming were invited.
Taylor is looking for ways to raise money.
“I don’t want the money handed to me. I will work for it. I’ll do anything.” She added that of course whatever she does would have to be approved by her mom Viola, not interfere with school or her job on Sundays at the Black Mountain Grill.
She attended the Jan. 9, 2018, Big Horn County School District No. 4 board meeting. At the meeting she read a portion of the letter to the board and those in attendance. She told them, “If I get to go it will be an honor to represent this school, district, town and state.”
Robin Zorn, owner of the Black Mountain Grill/The Cone Zone where Taylor has worked for years, says she would like to help Taylor raise the money.
“If people want to come in on our $5 burger Mondays or $5 spaghetti dinner Wednesdays during January and February we will donate a portion of their bill to Sabrina. The diners would just have to tell us that they are there in support of her. They can also pay above and beyond their bill. All of that money will go to her. Again they would just have to tell their server.” Zorn added there would also be donation jars in the Grill and The Cone Zone for Taylor. “It may be cold outside but ice cream warms the heart. Especially when you can also donate to a great cause.”
If you have work for or would like to make a donation, Taylor’s number is (307) 439-9499. She also has a gofundme page at https:// www.gofundme.com/college-volleyball