The seniors on Park City’s volleyball team will be celebrated with a pregame ceremony Tuesday night
In order to sustain a successful athletic program, Park City volleyball coach Matt Carlson believes it all starts with the culture.
Having a culture based on perseverance, leadership and accountability helped propel the Miners to its historical dominance in Utah 4A volleyball.
But this season, Park City moved up to Class 5A, which brought challenges like a tougher region schedule with better teams, according to Carlson.
“5A is unique because it’s a little more deep, but we feel confident that we still know the competition inside and out,” Carlson said. “There’s about eight or nine teams that can beat each other at any time and win the state championship. … And I believe we are one of them.”
However, one thing that hasn’t changed for Carlson and his program are the expectations for and qualities of his seniors.
Since he took over five seasons ago, Carlson has attributed the success of his teams to the senior classes. Whether for their skills on the volleyball court or leadership and attitude off it, the Park City program has found success because of what each senior class brings to the table.
“Park City volleyball has always relied on its culture, and that begins and ends with the seniors,” Carlson said of his four seniors. “This group is unique because I can honestly say that they care about everyone and everything associated with the program more than any group ever has. What they represent is the legacy of Park City volleyball, and they embody that and want that legacy to live on.”
On Tuesday night, Carlson and the rest of the volleyball program will honor its four 2019 seniors – Izzy Sandston, Kylie Farber, Lizzie Winstead and Jade Moffat – in a pregame ceremony.
According to Carlson, what sets this senior group apart from others is that they have a unique blend of leading in multiple ways. Kylie and Izzy are starters on the team, and lead on the court, while Lizzie and Jade couldn’t be better supporting players.
“They are without a doubt the heartbeat of the program, while each bring something different and unique to the team,” Carlson said. “As a group, all of them embody the perception and ideals of what it means to be a Miner in this program, and makes sure everyone lives up to them.”
Winstead might be the most loved player on the varsity team, if not in the program according to Carlson. Always a positive person with a smile on her face, she makes sure that no moment is too big or nerve-wracking for the Miners. Although she doesn’t play a lot, she loves being a part of the program and always works tremendously hard.
“She’s without a doubt our ‘Rudy,’” Carlson said. “She continually pushes this team forward with her hard work and perseverance, but always doing so with a smile and a laugh.”
Moffat is one of the quieter girls on the team, yet carries a strong presence. Although she doesn’t speak up much, Carlson know she’s respected because when she does talk, her words carry weight with the other girls.
“She has constantly stepped up with everything we’ve ever asked of her,” Carlson said. “What she does for this team is above and beyond anyone else, especially because she’ll always come in and grind away to get better.”
Farber is the most disciplined one of the group, the one who keeps everyone in line and believes in everything it means to be a Miner. She’s the fiercest competitor of the group, and the one you always want on your side.
“She’s the one that if we talk about something, she always figures out how to make it happen and how to get people to buy in,” Carlson said. “She’s never satisfied with just being good enough, she’s very dedicated and always wants people to be better.”
Sandston brings the experience, having been a starter on varsity since she was a sophomore. She’s the one who keeps calm on the court and who the other girls look too. After playing in state title games the previous two years, Sandston knows what type of work and discipline is needed to in order to win.
“She embodies the leadership and is the visionary of the group,” Carlson said. “She knows what needs to be done because of her experience and being very intellectual on the court.”
Altogether, this group of seniors has helped lead Park City into the upper class of 5A, where the Miners currently sit at No. 5 in the RPI rankings. By possessing the leadership, attitude, perseverance and dedication to be great, the Miners could very well be playing in their third consecutive state title game, and a big reason will be because of the four seniors leading the way.
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The Miners are truly a brotherhood, relying on one another to help their teammates go farther. After a few players missed last year’s 4A state semifinal game, this year’s group made sure those guys got the chance to experience this year’s semifinals. When injuries last week had the chance to derail the season, unsung heroes stepped up for the win. Now No. 1 Park City faces No. 2 Sky View in the 4A state title game on Friday at Rice Eccles Stadium.