WHERE ARE THEY NOW
September 4, 2013Rossville Middle High School
Foreign affairs: Exchange student finds place on Rossville team
Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 4:00 am
ROSSVILLE – Every year, high schools across the United States bring in foreign exchange students. Sometimes they can even provide help for athletic teams – one such example being Yoann Gueldre, who was the second-leading scorer for the Clinton Central boys’ basketball team and a first-team all-Clinton County selection in the 2010-11 season.
As this fall sports season got underway, the Rossville volleyball team generated some buzz when rumors started spreading about the volleyball exploits of the foreign exchange student that would be playing on the team. The tall tale of Beatriz Alonso’s volleyball skills had taken on a life of their own before she even stepped on the volleyball court in Rossville’s auxiliary gym.
Alonso’s background in volleyball is vast, and her national exploits in her home country of Spain are not in volleyball as we know it in the prep sports world, but in 2-on-2 beach volleyball – a sport in the States mostly known for the duo of Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor. Alonso, along with her teammate, won the 17U national championship recently, topping all competitors in a 24-team field.
This may not come as a surprise, but Alonso says she prefers playing beach volleyball over the 6-on-6 version.
“Because I think that when there are only two persons, you have more responsibility and you don’t need that other person to do well,” Alonso said. “We train a lot for these championships.”
Adjustment to live in Rossville hasn’t been as much of a culture shock as one would expect, Alonso says. Alonso is from Laredo, located in Northern Spain on the shores of the Bay of Biscay. However, the population of Laredo is around 12,000, which is smaller than Frankfort.
For the most part, Alonso said she has liked her time in the U.S.
“Yes, it is fun but it is different,” Alonso said.
The adjustment to playing with her Hornet teammates has taken her out of her comfort zone a little bit. Her most natural position is setter, but Rossville head coach Jenny Knapp was already set on playing sophomore Brittyn Oliver and grooming her for a three-year role there. So the 5-foot-8 Alonso has mostly played in the back row so far.
“She has come on very strong,” Knapp said. “She came in very positive, very excited to play. She’s very knowledgeable of the court and of the sport. As we’re getting to know each other, we’re learning from her and she’s learning from us. It’s been a nice process so far.”
A few instructions in practices and games have been lost in translation, Knapp said, as Alonso doesn’t have a full grasp on the English language. But Alonso’s instincts on the court have made up for it.
“Right now, I find myself saying things to her in a very Midwestern, Indiana-like way and I wonder if she’s fully grasping what I’m telling her but she seems to use it when she’s out there,” Knapp said.
She does have at least one person on the team she’s gotten to know – she’s living with the family of junior Danielle Memmer.
“It’s been a lot different having somebody live at my house that does the exact same stuff with me,” said Memmer, who has played in all 22 sets this season. “We’re almost exactly alike. She loves volleyball, it’s her favorite thing to do and it’s nice to have someone to talk volleyball with.”
Alonso may also play basketball for the Hornets this year, a sport Memmer also plays.
Alonso has played in four of Rossville’s five games, and has 24 digs and two aces. She had a season-high of 11 digs against Twin Lakes and tallied 10 against Lebanon.
“She’s so good at passing we don’t have to go for it,” Memmer said. “She has very good passes. They’re like perfect. It’s like you can’t even imagine setting her passes. She’s very scrappy and she knows how to get to everything. She’s picking it up a lot easier with the girls asking her questions and stuff.”
Alonso isn’t the only foreign exchange student playing volleyball in Clinton County. Clinton Central also has one in Edina Mihaly, who’s from Romania. Mihaly had three kills in the Bulldogs’ win against Western last week.
Both teams will go head-to-head on Sept. 12 at Rossville.
A special thank you goes out to Rossville High School Spanish teacher Kate Zabala for her role as the translator during the interview with Alonso.