Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — When Johanna Crawford opened an email late last spring, she never imagined she’d be reading what she did.
Crawford, who was just ending her freshman year at Chillicothe High School, found out she had been invited to play volleyball for a team she had never played on, with teammates she had never met, in a country she’s never been to.
“I received an email inviting me to play volleyball for America’s Team in Spain. We called about it and they said I was chosen because I was on the coaches’ recruiting list,” Crawford explained. “I was so excited and shocked when I found out about it. I never thought I would be going to Spain to play the sport I love against girls from other countries. Just thinking about wearing the red, white, and blue is such a cool feeling.”
This July, all of that will become a reality.
Crawford will be in Spain for a week, playing with girls from all over Ohio, as well as West Virginia. She’s one of around 40 players to receive an invite … and she’ll be seeing a familiar face in Katie Conner, who’s one of Crawford’s teammates at Chillicothe.
“Katie will also be going on this trip but is on a different team. We have seven full days in Barcelona and we’ll play six tournament games,” Crawford said. “We have a professional tour guide for our sight-seeing tours and we get time to walk around, shop, and go to the beach.”
This past fall, Crawford’s statistics raised eyebrows across the area.
The Cavaliers’ setter posted 339 assists alongside 101 digs and 41 aces. Those numbers helped Chillicothe finish 14-9 overall and 8-2 in the Frontier Athletic Conference, good enough to win a league title.
She’s hoping this summer’s trip can help her continue and sharpen her skills while getting a taste of what life after high school could be like.
“I expect to learn a lot about Spanish culture, see some historical places, and how it’s different from America,” Crawford said. “I hope to play college volleyball and I think this will give me an idea of what it would be like. I’ll have a new coach and all new teammates that I’ve never met. Like I said, it’s an honor to be wearing the red, white, and blue and representing the USA.”
When Crawford returns from her trip, she’ll have business to attend to with her club team and then, in the fall, her Cavaliers.
The team lost Sophie Fulkerson, Lauren Henry and Payton McBee who, together, made up the team’s leaders in kills, aces and digs. That will provide the opportunity for Crawford, among others, to step into a leadership role.
But for now, she’s simply focused on getting better. She knows what it will take to do so.
“Personally, I need to work on footwork, quickness, and moving the ball around. This club season will really help because I’m the only setter. We are going to some big tournaments in Indianapolis and Louisville,” Crawford said. “Going into my junior year, there will be a lot of changes. We are losing three of our best players. Sophie scored a lot of points and Payton went after every ball. But we have girls that are going to step in and take their place. I think the big thing we need to focus on is working as a team and communicating.”