Lake’s Daniels stars athletically and academically

FELTON – There’s no doubt Daia Daniels is making the most of her high school career both in the classroom and as an athlete.

The Lake Forest senior’s grade point average is currently a 3.9, which proves she knows the value of a good education, and she is on the roster of three Spartans sports teams – volleyball, basketball and soccer.

Senior Daia Daniels plays three sports for Lake Forest. (Special to The Journal/Bill Mitchell)

Senior Daia Daniels plays three sports for Lake Forest. (Special to The Journal/Bill Mitchell)

Not only is Daniels excelling in the classroom, she has also excelled in each of the three sports she is participating in.

While the volleyball team has been working on being a competitive team, both the girls’ basketball and soccer teams have earned their way into their respective state tournaments the past two seasons.

“Daia has been instrumental in helping our teams grow,” said Trenita Shields, who is the head coach of both the girls’ volleyball and basketball teams. “Ever since I have known Daia, it has been obvious she has leadership qualities.

“I would like for all my players to have the passion that she has both in the classroom and on the courts. Sometimes I would like to take little pieces of her and put them in my other players.”

Daniels is beginning her last year of high school as a player with a volleyball program she joined as a freshman.

“I started playing volleyball in the eighth grade and found out that I really liked it,” Daniels said. “I decided to join the high school volleyball team when I went to the ninth grade where I started on the junior varsity team before moving up to the varsity.”

While she enjoys playing volleyball, there’s a unique reason why it’s a little more fun than the other two varsity teams she plays on.

“I am an aggressive player,” she said. “Sometimes when you get too aggressive or angry in basketball or soccer you get called for fouls, but it’s not the same in volleyball.

“When you get angry or frustrated on the volleyball court you are on opposite sides of the net from the team you are playing so you can be aggressive without being penalized.”

Daniels’ coach likes the aggressiveness she displays in competition.

“When you are passionate about what you are doing sometimes that type of aggression comes out,” said Shields. “That’s just the type of person she is, which I can’t fault her for. As for as being a coach’s player, she is all that and more.”

Although she would like for the Spartans to have started the season with better than a 2-4 record, Daniels feels the team is getting better.

“We have gotten off to a rocky start,” she said. “However, we are a young team (three seniors) and, with the type of very good talent we have, I know we are going to get much better.”

Unlike the basketball and soccer teams, which have been competitive, the volleyball team hasn’t been, which is something Daniels is handling very well.

“It is difficult sometimes,” she said. “But, with the experience of being in the state tournament with my other two teams, I know this team has the potential to do the same.

“It would mean a lot to me to end my high school career on a state tournament volleyball team. But, if we don’t I know it wasn’t because this team didn’t do its best to get there.”

Daniels knows it’s possible for the volleyball team to end the season in the playoffs because she has experienced the same situation on both the basketball and soccer teams.

Just three years ago, the basketball and soccer teams ended the season with losing records before turning the programs around and qualifying for the state tournament the past two seasons.

“It’s a great feeling knowing you played a part in helping resurrect those teams,” said Daniels. “It makes you feel proud for yourself, your teammates and your school.

“I’m looking forward to my last season on both the teams because we all realize we can compete against the better teams in the state.”

Now in her final year at Lake Forest, Daniels said she has mixed emotions about this chapter in her life coming to a close.

“I know it will be an emotional time for me when we play our last soccer game in the spring,” she said. “I’m definitely thinking about it and I want to end it knowing that I did my best in the classroom as well as on the three teams I play for.”

Daniels hasn’t made up her mind about where she wants to attend college – her choices include Wesley, Green Mountain (VT) and Warren Wilson (NC) – and she has not exactly made up her mind which sport she will play at the collegiate level.

“Right now, I most likely will play basketball,” she said. “However, I can also see myself playing volleyball.”

In the meantime, those who want to see Daniels and the Lake Forest volleyball team in action can do so Thursday when the Spartans host Indian River at 5 p.m.

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