Sept. 19th Outstanding Student Athlete: Elkhart's Azariah Stahl
The two most important things to Azariah Stahl are in fact one and the same - family and volleyball.
According to MaxPreps.com, the Elkhart Central senior leads the nation in hitting percentage. She is also approaching 2,000 kills for her career.
"It's like a rush that just goes through your body," Azariah says of the perfect kill. "It's amazing when you just crank the ball to the floor and the whole crowd goes crazy."
Azariah's parents have the best seats in the house to watch their star. Her dad, John, mans the video camera while her mom, Yolanda, stalks the sidelines as the Blazers head coach.
"How relentless she is with practicing," says Yolanda of her daughter's strengths. "The effort that she's putting in and the focus that she puts in. I think that's probably just the most enjoyable thing."
Both parents work at Elkhart Central. And Yolanda actually homeschooled Azariah and her two older brothers through eighth grade.
"She's always been a huge part of my life," Azariah says. "With school and sports she always pushed me."
One of the few times she got away from her parents was before her junior year. And she went all the way to Central America, playing with the U.S. Jr. National Team in Nicaragua.
"Being through that program helps you a lot," says Azariah, who hopes to make the Olympics one day. "It gets your name out there, it gets you well known to all the coaches that are in the Olympic pipeline.
"Right now, I'm more focused on what I'm going to be doing at Purdue," says the Boilermaker commit. "Hopefully developing to a player that could make the national team."
Yolanda says that experience taught her daughter to be a more vocal player.
"You can fly through the air, you can hit balls. But at the same time you have to be vocal. You have to be out there leading the girls. You have to be talking, you have to be communicating."
Next year Azariah will be on her own for good, playing college volleyball for national-power Purdue. And there is a reason she settled on the Boilermakers.
"Honestly, it felt like home," she says. "The coaching staff is just like one big family and all the girls were really welcoming."
Family and volleyball -a killer combination.