Former Carroll Volleyball Star has Long Career Ahead
Nov 16, 2015 03:13PM ● Published by Kevin
We caught up with Panter to discuss her past, present and future in a Q&A.
Southlake Style: How’s freshman year going for you both on and off the court?
Paige Panter: I honestly have no words to describe how much I love it here. It’s been such a great experience for me so far. It feels like home. The team and coaches. It helps make the difference for me that we’re really like a family. The girls, especially the freshmen, I consider really close friends of mine. It’s really nice and been great so far.
SS: As a freshman, you've gotten some playing time. Talk about your performance on the court a bit more.
Panter: Like you said, I’m a freshman. I think at the moment I’m here to contribute as much as I possibly can and develop. The one match I started was a great experience. I got in a little more than expected than most freshmen, but it’s a big accomplishment in itself for me. For me right now the goal is developing to be the best of my ability, so whenever we have people that play my position that graduate that I can step in and fulfill that goal to the best of my ability. The team is going right now. We’re on a -game win-streak. Practice is intense. We’re all focusing on who we’re playing next and what we need to do to accomplish our ultimate goal of winning conference.
SS: So, what's your outlook for rest of season?
Panter: I think our rematch against Florida will be really good. They defeated us at their place. We’re hoping to pay back the favor when they come to our place in front of the 12th man. We’re preparing really well. It’s always fun playing in front of the 12th man. We play Kentucky this Friday. They’re in first in conference right now. [Note: The Aggies defeated Kentucky in the referenced match, 3-1].
SS: Give me your outlook on your eventual starting role for this team.
Panter: Right now we’re a team that’s really similar to the team at Carroll. We have a lot of depth. We have so many people in each position. In that aspect, it’s more rather than me being selfish and saying I’m going to start, it’s what can I do to contribute to the team. Angela [Lowak] is graduating next year. There are a junior and sophomore both starting right now in her same position. I’ve learned so much from both of them since I’ve gotten here. They’re phenomenal players. Watching them and everyone in practice has been so helpful.
SS: Would you say that duo are your mentors? Who else would you consider?
Panter: I think our two senior captains, Angela and Shelby [Sullivan], are for sure two of my mentors. Emily Hardesty is one of them. All the upperclassmen have really embraced all of us as a freshman class. It’s hard to single anybody out from that aspect.
SS: Why did you choose Texas A&M?
Panter: I had visited a bunch of other schools. I was recruited for indoor and beach. I had two different ways it could’ve gone. I liked the other programs, the coaches were cool, the schools were cool, but I came here and visited and fell in love with it.
The environment here, not even just the program, but the school itself is so welcoming. You feel everyone in town is one big family. The 12th man is legitimate. It describes everybody. I had grown up in a place at Carroll where you protect the tradition. It’s been a big deal my entire life. It’s even bigger here. That’s wonderful for me. I love stuff like that. It was a great fit with my personality. The coaches are good about recruiting girls that get along. Everybody loves everybody. It was the whole entire experience for me. I just loved it. It was nice for me, I have two little brothers, 10 and 12, they’re only three and a half hours away. It’s nice to stay connected to them and my family.
SS: At Carroll you were a two-year starter and lost only six games. Reflect on your career and what you learned there.
Panter: I think the biggest thing I learned from Carroll is the simple fact of how to win. There are so many teams, especially club volleyball too, there’s so many teams and so much talent on every team with so much depth. In the end, it’s the team that’s talented and truly in their heart of hearts can win. The entire school, grades and sports, of how supportive everyone is of the Dragons; I learned how to really care about people, what it means to truly be on a team at Carroll, especially during my junior year. That team was one of my favorite teams to play on.
SS: Do you still play beach volleyball? Do you have a favorite between the two?
Panter: Not really. I play beach every summer. I’m hoping to play eventually after college. That’s my ultimate goal: continue on with that. It’s extremely hard to find time with balancing school, athletics and everything. Being a student-athlete, I would never givit up but it’s very difficult to balance. Whenever I get to chance, I take it seriously. It’s the only reps I get. When I go home, I’ll play with my girls and train with them.
I’m hoping to enter the professional circuit. That’s an ultimate goal for me. I’d absolutely love to do it. I have other options I want to pursue as a career as well, but not the Olympics. They only take four people for that.
SS: What's the future for you after volleyball?
Panter: I’m in communication honors. I’m minoring in pre-law. I’m hoping to go to law school. I always wanted to pursue a career in that. It’s really convenient that A&M just opened up a new law school in Arlington. That may be an option for me. That’s way down the road in the future. I’ve got some time to decide on that one.
SS: Talk to yourself as a freshman in high school. Give yourself advice.
Panter: Don’t let anybody tell you you’re too small. I’m 5’10 and a majority of the coaches I talked to told me I was too small to be an outside hitter for them at a D1 school. I was blessed to meet Laurie Corbelli, who gave me the opportunity to play that position for her and play for a school that’s a top school in the country. Ironically, a lot of smaller girls end up scoring more than big girls. I believe in myself more and trust in my physical abilities.
SS: Do you keep in touch with your former teammates at all?
Panter: It’s hard to constantly keep up with them. I check in here and there. I know they beat our big rivals Colleyville and Coppell in district. That was exciting, and I was proud of them. They’re successful. That has been really exciting. I’ve been really happy with them. It will be easier next semester. I’ve been putting everything off until then when I have more free time.
SS: What have you learned most in college so far?
Panter: Don’t be afraid to be yourself. I got here and everybody is themselves. No one is afraid to be who they want to be. No one is judgmental. If everybody loves everybody, but if you don’t like something about me, that’s your problem, not mine. That’s a struggle for most people. I went to Fish Camp at the begin of my freshman year. I made so many friends and met so many people. Those experiences carried over and that really influenced a lot of people. That’s what I learned the most, honestly.
The idea of Fish Camp is, they take us out to a sleep-away camp that's three or four hours away. You stay there for four days and you learn all the traditions of A&M, the different yells, why you do this, respect who’s around you and not judge who they are, and learn their backgrounds. Once you get to A&M it’s a new start. You can be who you want to be and everyone’s the same way.
SS: Would you like to thank anyone?
Panter: All of the coaches I’ve played for – club, especially really influenced me a lot. Ryan [Mitchell] was an influence in high school for me. I played for him in club as well. LJ Farriago, Kirk Perry and Claire Rose [Benedict] were all big influences for me - they were club coaches of mine - and private lessons coach Joe Jablonski.
Photos provided by Texas A&M Athletics.