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James Clemens’ lone senior volleyball player, Emily Drinkard, is the “Keeper of the Keys” for head coach Amana Wood as the talented player ends her high school years of volleyball. Photo Contributed

Emily Drinkard Is Lone Senior For James Clemens Volleyball- “Keeper Of The Keys”

MADISON- As the 2020 season winds down for high school volleyball, so does the last campaign for Emily Drinkard who is the lone senior on the squad at James Clemens. She has planned on not pursuing playing collegiate volleyball, but instead will concentrate on academics in her quest to earn a degree in marine biology at the University of South Alabama (USA).

“I hate to lose her,” said James Clemens head coach Amanda Wood. “She’s a leader and puts in the work as she arrives early and leaves late. I’ve decided I’m awarding her ‘Keep of the Keys Award’ as she makes sure equipment is put up after our practices and games. Matter of fact, I will begin handing out that award every season because of Emily.”

As team captain, Drinkard leads the Lady Jets in more ways than just on the court. “When we’ve had issues with players, Coach Wood comes to me to address the situations,” said Drinkard. “I now make a lot of the decisions and lead the team. Most of the players, especially the freshmen, come to me for help.”

Drinkard began playing volleyball in the fourth grade and it would seem the progression to the game was a natural fit. Her mother played the sport in high school, her older sister also played, but it was her Aunt who really got her involved. “She was a volleyball coach and would host a camp here and I would attend and that’s what really got me to love the game. My sister was playing and I though it looked like fun, so I tried it.”

The 17-year old daughter to Wes Drinkard and Daphne Dedford, is a 5-foot-6, 130-pound athlete who is aggressive, loud, a hard worker and is a good setter and server on the volleyball court. Wood added, “She is tough as nails and goes hard all the time. She’s also a responsible student-athlete who leads by her actions.”

Responsibility is a virtue for Drinkard as she volunteers at her church by participating in the annual Operation Christmas Child program. With her light brown, short hair shining like a beacon, when not playing volleyball, spends time playing with her two dogs. She also loves the local waterways partaking in wake boarding, water skiing and tubing. She’s also a student ambassador for James Clemens and a member of the National English Honor Society.

In pre-season practice, she suffered a chin injury sustaining five stitches and was out of action for nearly a week. “Yes, I worked my way back very quickly and ended up playing matches with the stitches remaining in my chin,” added Drinkard.

“I tried basketball, soccer, cheerleading and dance, but volleyball was the only sport I stuck with as I love all the fun I have with my teammates in both my school team and the travel teams I played with in the past,” said Drinkard. “I have made many friends through the years and I love to meet new people.”

When the days of playing volleyball are complete for Drinkard, rest assured, she’ll hand off the keys to success for the Jets as she has left a leadership legacy for those who follow her on the court and proudly wear the Carolina blue and navy colors of the school where she carries a 3.6 grade point average and will one day help preserve sea turtles in her work in marine biology.

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