Betsy Heidel is the youngest of five. Competitiveness comes with the territory.
“Board games, stupid stuff, everything,” she said. “We always compete.”
On the fields and courts of Pilgrim high school, that served Heidel well. She remembers watching her brother and her sisters play sports there. When it was her turn, she became one of the school’s best athletes, starring in volleyball, basketball and lacrosse.
“I was always into sports,” she said. “Being on a team, striving for the same goal – no matter what the sport was, I just always loved that. It gives you confidence, it gives you power. It’s something I’ve always loved.”
Heidel’s competitive streak and passion were constants for the Pilgrim volleyball team. In her junior year, the Pats had their best season in more than a decade. A big senior class graduated that spring, leaving some holes for this year. The Pats had their struggles, finishing 4-10, but it wasn’t for lack of effort.
“I feel like we came through and did the best we could,” Heidel said. “We worked well together and we had a lot of close games. We had a lot of good players who just didn’t get a lot of playing time last year. It was a decent year for what we had.”
Heidel served as a captain for the Pats and she was their most consistent player whether she was in the front row or the back.
“She never came off the court,” said head coach Claire Baggesen. “She brought experience and a level of maturity that every team needs.”
Heidel became a varsity contributor early in her career, and Baggesen saw the potential immediately. Even though Heidel had no organized volleyball experience, she had played some with her sisters – and her athleticism spoke for itself.
“She comes from a family of athletes and volleyball players,” Baggesen said. “She had great ability. It was just about building confidence. She got better and better.”
Even in a tough season, Heidel’s enthusiasm and consistency didn’t waver. She took upon herself to be a vocal leader in practices and matches. On the court, she was as steady as ever – even flashing a strong defensive game, something tall, athletic players don’t always want to work on.
“She was a multi-faceted talent,” Baggesen said.
Heidel will head to Rhode Island College in the fall, and she plans to try out for both the volleyball and lacrosse teams.