Fri Dec 17th, 2021
Special to the Drum
Categories: Sports, Sports, Volleyball
Tags: Alexis Pontine, McCook Community College, National Junior College Athletic Association, National Letter-of-Intent, Shasta Pontine
Before a sizable crowd – including extended family, friends, teachers and coaches past and present – assembled Monday, Dec. 13, inside IHS Gymnasium, senior Alexis Pontine signed a National Junior College Athletic Association National Letter-of-Intent to study at and play volleyball for McCook (Neb.) Community College this coming fall.
“You think of all the countless hours you put into your sport – not only in games and at practices, but working out, eating right – and it’s just an overwhelming, amazing feeling that … for something you’ve worked so hard, for so many years, you finally achieved it,” Pontine said. “I really liked McCook, how they’re family-oriented. The coaches were super nice, they have a great volleyball program, and I just really liked the culture, you could say, of the school.”
“It’s got a small-town vibe, which is nice because … you know a bunch of people and people you know come and support you. So, it’s just a really good fit for me. I’m definitely focused on … just getting in shape, getting ready; I’m super excited.”
“She’s grown up so – oh, I’m going to cry now – much in the last couple years, becoming this amazing woman,” said mother and Ignacio head coach Shasta Pontine. “We’re just super proud of her.”
Named the Volleycats’ varsity MVP, First Team All-San Juan Basin League, and recently Second Team All-2A, Pontine helped Ignacio go 19-8 overall this fall – reaching the CHSAA Class 2A State Championships – and 46-42 during her four seasons.
“I actually saw her play at the (CCGS) All-State Games, and I said to my head coach at McCook … like, ‘We have to get her. I don’t know what you need to tell her to get her here, but let’s do it,’” said McCook assistant coach Hannah Emerson, a 2017 graduate of then-5A (now 4A) Greeley West – and former MCC player – who also attended the signing ceremony.
“We want her as a setter; we have another tall setter too, so we want them both to be able to play. We want Alexis on the court all the time, so I think she’s going to be a great fit at that position, just based off her personality when she plays. And if we need her as a hitter, we can use her as a hitter too! She’s dynamic and that’s perfect for us.”
Under sixth-year skipper Hayley Kobza, McCook went 20-18 in Fall 2021, bowing out in the consolation rounds of the NJCAA Division I, Region IX Tournament hosted by Western Nebraska CC in Scottsbluff. It was already the fourth time she’d helmed MCC to 20 or more wins in a season, as she improved to 111-99 overall.
“She wanted to be a setter,” explained Shasta Pontine, “but she was recruited by several other schools as a hitter first. So to get into a higher-level college she needs to go in as a setter; compared to the assistant coach (Emerson) … she’s not that tall! So, this is going to help her find the skills she hasn’t developed yet.”
“McCook’s a really good school; it was one … we were kind of targeting in the beginning anyway,” she continued. “And I think the best part is they’re going to help her get to the next level.”
“We’re all excited to have Alexis,” said the 6’2” Emerson, whose career continued at NCAA Division I Coastal Carolina after two seasons at McCook, and ended with her graduating CCU in August. “I think she’ll fit in and we’re excited for the future.”