November 2006 High School Athlete of the Month: Michelle Hesterberg

“She is a captain and one of the best leaders I have coached in my 10+ years of coaching.”

– MPA Head Coach, Marilynn Seashore

School: Mounds Park Academy
Grade: 12
Team: Varsity Volleyball
Position: Middle Blocker

When Mounds Park Academy’s girls’ volleyball team takes the court, the opposing teams—or visiting fans—don’t notice anything out of the ordinary. The players span the court in their royal blue uniforms with black spandex, digging and hitting as best they can; their coaches lean in from the sidelines in their snazzy matching shirts, with clipboards on their laps; their fans cheer them on, win or loss.

But with a brief glance at the team roster, one will discover something a little less common of a high school varsity team: MPA only has one senior… and five sophomores (the team is rounded out by three juniors, one freshmen and several more sophomores on JV). Who’s piloting the pack? St. Paul’s Michelle Hesterberg.

“Michelle is the only senior on our team this year and is really leading the team in many ways. She is a captain and one of the best leaders I have coached in my 10+ years of coaching,” says MPA Head Coach Marilynn Seashore.

Michelle’s volleyball career began years ago, when she started playing in 6th grade and eventually made her way onto Adidas Select, a premier AAU team. Although propelled by hard work, some of Michele’s talent may be in her genes: two aunts, one uncle and her father all played volleyball in college and enjoy the sport to this day (her younger sister, Arianna, currently plays for Ramsey Junior High).

Michelle may be the only player graduating this year, but there are other attributes that set her apart from the pack. Standing at 5’8” (shorter than the typical middle blocker) she’s recognized for her amazing vertical. She’s also the best digger on the team, Seashore says.

“She is an outstanding athlete because of her physical attributes, but more so because of her desire to work hard and to help her team. She works hard every day, whether it be a practice or a match, hitting, blocking and playing defense in the back row.”

Her teammates seem grateful for this effort and leadership, made evident from their festivities and energy directed toward Michelle on senior night—a night they more commonly referred to as “Michelle Night.”

In appropriate tribute, MPA pulled together and beat conference rival St. Anthony in four tough games (25-21, 25-19, 17-25, 25-16). Michelle even won the match point, putting the perfect exclamation point on what she notes as her favorite memory from this season.

“Although we haven’t always been successful, it has always been really fun. I have some great friends on the team that I would probably have never met if it wasn’t for volleyball.”

What’s next for Michelle? College applications are in the works (where she’ll likely major in political science and environmental science), but finishing her senior year comes first. That means running track and field and staying involved in a number of school organizations, including Amnesty International, Gay-Straight Alliance and Mosaic (a student diversity group responsible for an annual cultural fair).

The 2006-07 academic year isn’t the last MPA will see of their sole volleyball senior though. Michelle says she’ll be back.

“I think that as our younger players grow older and mature, they will also become much more consistent… We have a lot of young talent right now that will make the team very good in the next couple of years. I am really excited to come back and watch the team play!”

When that time comes, MPA will don their blue uniforms and throw on the black spandex as usual, but maybe announce it ‘Michelle Night’ again, just for old time’s sake.

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