Samantha Seliger Swanson
At a time when most girls her age are consumed by Facebook and the looming quest for a driver's license, Hopkins' freshman volleyball star Samantha Seliger Swanson is involved in more worldly pursuits.
As in playing for Team USA in the European Global Challenge in Croatia in July.
Swanson, whose mother, Vicki Seliger, is also her high school coach, has been attending national volleyball camps for a couple of years. A setter by trade, her skills have opened enough eyes that she is already being recruited by colleges across the nation despite her youth.
"She's had interest from Cal-Berkley and Florida. Ohio State has talked to her. And, of course, Minnesota," Vicki Seliger said. "Colleges were talking to her when she was in eighth grade, but no one wanted to be the team that offered an eighth-grader."
Staff writer Jim Paulsen talked with Samantha about a volleyball career on the rise.
So, talk about this summer.
Well, I go to Orlando with my club team [Northern Lights 17-under] for the AAU Nationals in the middle of June. Then, about a week later, my club team goes to Columbus [Ohio] for the Junior Olympic Nationals. And then I leave for Italy to train with the Youth National team on July 10.
What's the agenda in Italy?
We fly into Venice and then we stay in Italy and scrimmage with the Italian youth national team, then we got to Croatia for the European Global Challenge.
Excited to play for your country?
Definitely. It's such a great opportunity. It give me goose bumps just thinking about wearing USA on my back.
How many setters on the team?
Originally, there was just two -- me and another girl -- but then they added a third setter.
Any rivalry between setters?
No. They're great players. Playing together is great fun. We're always pushing each other to get better. No one starts any drama.
Didn't you have a volleyball trip to Europe last year?
It was with Northern Lights. It wasn't for a tournament or anything, we just went to a few different countries and toured and scrimmaged the girls' national teams. Well, actually we scrimmaged women's national teams and we were just 14, 15, 16 years old.
Which countries did you see?
Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary. And we flew into Amsterdam.
How was the food?
It was different, but it was pretty good. The soda was less sweet there, which was a good thing. We ate a lot of different kinds of meat. We didn't really know what we were eating, but it all tasted pretty good.
I hear you're already being recruited by colleges.
Yeah, it's kind of stressful. Colleges call and say all kinds of stuff, like "We like you a lot. You're our top recruit," and things like that.
That's a lot of pressure for someone going into 10th grade.
It is, but they've also been very respectful. They tell me they know I'm young and they don't expect anything this soon.
Volleyball has been pretty good to you?
I love playing volleyball. I love everything about it. It's opened up so many doors for me.