Ferndale volleyball player Taryn Potter is a versatile, smart and a powerful hitter. She’s also a two-year captain and undoubted leader for the Golden Eagles.
She wasn’t always this way though.
While she’s possessed talent for years, Potter has transformed from a self-described “brat” into the vocal director she is now.
“I was a brat my freshman year,” Potter said after an Aug. 28 preseason practice. “I knew I had the potential to be on varsity and play but I had a terrible attitude. ... I was really cocky. I knew I was a good freshman coming out of middle school and I was really cocky. I got a reality check getting to play one game of districts on the varsity team and that switched my whole thing around.”
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The difference in Potter hasn’t gone unnoticed by coach Patti Hoelzle.
“I tell people this all the time but they would not recognize the Taryn that came in as a freshman player. Leadership-wise, attitude, work ethic, she has done a complete 180,” Hoelzle said. “I couldn’t be prouder of her for that. She’s had to do a lot of work on what kind of teammate she wants to be and what kind of player and I think that the kind of player she wants to be is who she is now.”
Of course, Potter has had some good role models throughout the years, most notably now-graduated Abby Reid, who was a star setter for the Golden Eagles during their state runs each of the past two years.
But Potter insisted all the credit should go to Hoelzle.
“I really switched that around thanks to Patti. Without her I would not be playing right now,” Potter said. “I look up to her a lot — her and Abby. They’re both able to tell me the truth. If I’m being cocky or anything, Patti will be the first to tell me and I really appreciate it.”
The growth of Potter has mirrored the rise of the Golden Eagles, as they’ve made state both the past two years and are primed to return this season, with a goal of making it to the second day of the Class 3A tournament.
It’s unclear where Potter will play this season, as she’s dynamic enough to play just about anywhere on the court and has played back row, setter, middle blocker and outside hitter throughout the summer and past seasons.
What is clear is that Potter will be a difference-maker.
“If I were to describe her as a player, she is dynamic and just powerful,” Hoelzle said. “She likes to hit hard. She wants things to be perfect but then she gets excited about it. She really can change the momentum from a down point with one of her big swings. It’s very impactful to the team.”
Her vocal style of leadership is also a big plus. She isn’t afraid to critique her teammates and has found a way to do so without offending them, which can be difficult among high school girls, Hoelzle said.
Potter has big hopes for her senior season, as she strives for a Northwest Conference title as well as a Saturday appearance at state, and is well aware of how finite her time is in volleyball after having sustained two injuries last season, which caused her to miss the entire district tournament last year before returning for state.
“It was incredibly tough. The lowest point in my whole high school career by far,” Potter said. “I was determined to get back and play in state and was lucky enough I got to. It wasn’t like the best time, but I was grateful I was able to.”
That drive to return to the hardwood showed the 5-foot-8 player’s “grit,” Hoelzle said.
“She has big hopes and dreams for her senior season,” the coach remarked. “She would pick the whole team up on her back and drag them to state if she could. You can tell that in the way she plays.”
Ferndale will begin its season against Oak Harbor on Tuesday, Sept. 8, on the road.
Reach Joshua Hart at 360-715-2238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Overall rec. (Conf.)
State (1st day)
State (1st day)
State (1st day)