Mount Baker senior Conner Brandland became passionate about playing volleyball when he was in junior high, but he never had a team of his own to play with until late in his high school career.
And even then, Brandland was forced to travel to Seattle where he played for the Space Needle Volleyball Club once or twice a week.
Brandland will no longer have to travel or fight to find a local club of his own, as he’s committed to play next season for the University of Charleston in Charleston, W.V.
“This is such a huge opportunity,” Brandland said in a phone interview. “I’m so (thankful) to everyone that has helped me get to where I am today. It’s always been a dream to play in college, and the fact that I can do that and play at a higher level is such a gift.”
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Brandland talked to Mount Baker High School and the WIAA about starting a boys’ volleyball team in Deming, but he said the idea never caught on. He became the girls’ team manager, practiced with the team and stayed late after practice to film himself completing drills.
Brandland then posted his videos on recruiting websites, and he eventually piqued the interest of a handful of colleges, including Division II Charleston.
“Charleston is a first-year program,” Brandland explained. “All of the people coming in are freshmen. I am under the impression, speaking to my coach, I will be a starter next year.”
Brandland plays the setter position and is planning to study elementary education.
“It’s so cool seeing men’s volleyball take off and being a part of something new at the University of Charleston,” Brandland said. “I’m just so excited.”
LONGTIME PREP BASKETBALL RADIO VOICE EARNS AWARD
The Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association selected four new members to its Hall of Fame, which was announced in a press release Thursday, April 24.
Most notable to Whatcom County is longtime radio broadcaster Dick Stark, who will receive the Ed Pepple Service Award for his contributions to high school basketball.
For many years, Stark has provided play-by-play and commentary to prep basketball games.
The four inductees include Rick Comer from Renton, Rainer Beach’s Mike Bethea, Bainbridge’s Dean Scherer and North Mason’s Al Gleich, who also served at Olympic and North Kitsap.
The 39th Annual Hall of Fame banquet will be held at 5 p.m. with the ceremony at 6 p.m. on July 23 at the Allenmore Events Center in Tacoma.
Other notables who’ve been inducted into the WIBCA Hall of Fame include Chuck Randall and Monte Walton.
HAGGEN TO PLAY AT SANTA BARBARA CITY COLLEGE
Sehome senior soccer forward Jesse Haggen will be continuing his soccer career next season, playing for Santa Barbara City College.
Haggen said his sister attended the college last year, and based off her reviews, decided it would be a great place to start the next phase of his life while moving forward with soccer.
“I’m every excited,” Haggen said in a phone interview. “There are tryouts in August and a summer program that I am going to.”
Haggen said he’s unsure exactly where the coaches want him to play, but he is excited to get going.
Haggen has helped the Mariners to a 7-2-3 overall record and a 5-2-1 mark in conference play. He’s scored twice this spring and added four goals last fall.