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High School sports

Varsity Q&A: Cora Shafer is ready to take Crofton volleyball to new heights as part of school’s first senior class

Cora Shafer is a rising senior at Crofton — one of the first at the three-year-old high school.

A two-time first-team All-County selection, Shafer led both her volleyball and basketball teams to playoff wins in their first varsity seasons, contributing 88 kills, 23 digs, 64 blocks and six aces in volleyball and 16 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks per game in basketball

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Shafer helped lead the Cardinals’ volleyball team to the program’s first Class 3A South region championship, 3-0 over Oxon Hill, and to a region final in basketball, where Crofton lost by only three points to Stephen Decatur.

Shafer recently spoke to The Capital about the upcoming varsity season, her role and learning how to be a leader in new terrain (questions and answers have been edited for clarity):

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So you’re heading into your second varsity season. Kind of crazy now, that Crofton’s an established program, had their first real seasons. What’s that feel like, being that this is the first time you’re approaching a season being like, ‘OK, we know what we did and what we can do?’

I think it’s kind of cool, knowing that we started how everyone is going to see Crofton for the next few years. It’s cool that we get another year — our final year — to continue what we started. But now, we have the experience.

Is there a little bit of pressure knowing you don’t have a lot of time to do what you want to do here, that you’ve got one last chance?

I feel pressure in that sort of sense. Just not as much as people would expect. It just feels normal. This is a normal high school to us. I know it’s not normal to other people, but it’s so normal to us that it just doesn’t feel like there’s too much pressure.

Sometimes when I talk to rising seniors, they talk about, ‘Well I had this senior when I was a freshman, and they showed me the ropes. I see how to act as a leader based off them.’ How were you able to develop your own leadership style without the usual things people learn from?

For both of the sports I played, I just tried to be as positive as I can, tried to be a leader. I knew people looked up to me. Even though I really have no one [older on my team] to look up to, that I could look up to my coaches and follow their example, and follow other people from the past that I’ve seen be good leaders. I tried to get everyone to have good relationships with one another on the team. I feel like it worked out pretty well.

So, with volleyball, you guys got deep into the playoffs. You had some experiences where you faced all the really hard teams, got the experience of getting to elimination rounds. How do you think having all that experience will better prepare an already talented team this year?

I feel like it will take away all our anxieties about it. I know at least for volleyball, we were all very nervous because it was this whole week of playoffs, this whole week of our season ending. So, I think now, we’re used to that. We know that feeling and we’re going to be a lot better prepared of how to respond to that feeling and play better through it.

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So, of course Arundel graduated some really key players, including the Player of the Year [Zaria Ragler]. Broadneck graduated Natalie Luscomb. But you guys have the benefit of graduating nobody. How do you think that’s going to help you guys this year?

Now that we’ve been together for a year, we’ve all been playing and no one’s left, I feel like we have a step up over everybody. Every other team is gonna be missing their seniors, which is usually their best players. But since we didn’t, we’re guaranteed to be as good as we were last year, if not better. We’ll probably do better.

And then for you, how do you see yourself, both on the court and as a captain? I assume you’re going to be a captain this year. How do you see yourself playing that role?

For volleyball or basketball?

For both, but especially volleyball, since that’s the one coming up.

After each point, to get everyone together and communicate. Just like all trying to be positive with each other and let each other know that if we messed up, that’s fine, just move onto the next play. Just keep pushing through and try to stay positive.

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This is the first part of a question-and-answer series leading up and into the 2022-23 high school season. If you are or know an athlete who would be interested in speaking to The Capital, email kfominykh@baltsun.com.


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