Laney Torkelson has been a Morris Daily Herald All-Area selection in three different sports — volleyball, basketball and softball — while playing for the Morris Redskins.
In two of those sports, Torkelson’s career at Morris is over. She opted not to go out for the basketball team this winter after playing her first three years. In volleyball, Torkelson played her final season for the Redskins in the fall of 2012, though she will play volleyball at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Ala.
But Torkelson’s final softball season for the Redskins has just begun. Prior to Thursday’s season opener versus Sterling, Torkelson shared her thoughts with the MDH.
Q. Why did you pick Jacksonville State?
A. Jacksonville State seemed to stand out to me for many reasons. For one, I love the weather down south. I love being warm. Also, when I went and visited, the coaches made me feel like they cared so much and the team made me feel at home. Almost the whole team is from out of state so we all had a connection.
Q. Did you always expect volleyball was the sport you’d play at the next level, or did you consider any others?
A. Coming into high school, I always wanted to be a two-sport athlete. As I grew up, I knew I should just stick to one sport. My junior year, I finally thought I had made a decision as to what sport I thought I wanted to take to the next level, so I joined a well known travel softball team and traveled the whole summer.
After that season, it came known to me that even though I may be more experienced in softball, I should go for what I enjoy playing the most, and that is volleyball.
Q. Your class led the volleyball program to some things it hadn’t done in quite a while. Which accomplishment sticks out most?
A. One of the biggest accomplishments our volleyball team achieved would have been winning the regional game my junior year. It was the most exciting game I have ever played. My class has really accomplished a lot. Four out of the four seniors looking to go on to play got scholarships to great schools. Another big accomplishment would be beating DeKalb and being their first loss in two years.
Q. Did you miss playing basketball this winter?
A. I actually did not miss playing basketball this past winter. I always knew it wasn’t the sport I was going to play in college so it did not break my heart not playing. I decided to focus on volleyball a little more and play club ball. It was so much less stressful being able to play club ball and then transition into school softball. I believe I made the right decision to not play basketball this year.
Q. How has the softball team looked this preseason?
A. We have looked pretty good so far. We practiced outside only twice so far due to the weather, but it seems to be all coming together. Our hitting looks great off of our pitchers and our fielding just has a little more to go. Overall, we should be able to win some games this season.
Q. In what ways do you expect your role to change compared to what it has been in the past?
A. In the past, I have always been more of a defensive player in softball playing shortstop. This year, I have switched to first base hoping to have less of a chance of an arm injury going into next volleyball season. I would say I am one of the most powerful hitters on the team so they definitely expecting more out of my offense than ever before.
Q. What are your goals, both for yourself and the team, this season?
A. My personal goal for this softball season would be to bat over .400. As a team, we would love to be able to say we were conference champs and win the regional title for our 2012-2013 season.
Q. How did you get started in each of the three sports you played in high school?
A. As a kid, I actually played five sports — soccer, softball, track, basketball and volleyball. When I got to high school, I had to pick between softball, track and soccer since they all happen in the same season.
Softball, I started playing when I was 5 in tee ball my first year. My dad would always go out to our field we have and we would practice almost everyday. Volleyball, I started playing as a sixth grader from Saratoga. My coach, Mrs. Waldron, helped me tremendously with all the skills I needed.
When I got to high school, it just became my favorite sport to play since it was the newest sport I learned and it was exciting. When it comes to basketball, my dad was a big basketball guy so he always loved watching my sister and I playing basketball. We would always go out, even if I was in a winter coat, and learn some new moves.
Q. Does any moment stand out above the others from your almost four years in sports for Morris?
A. I would say all of the memories I shared with my basketball team my sophomore year were the greatest. All of the players seemed to stick together through the hard times and we all loved being around each other.
That is the year the (Cummings) twins and I became so close. They are the reason I suck with basketball my junior year. My most memorable moment would probably be Mrs. Windy coming to all of the games and bringing us goodie bags full of the best cookies. She was our biggest supporter.
Another memory I will never forget is when we went on our Missouri trip and I had to play against a post player getting recruited by Iowa State and me not knowing what to do in the middle of the game when she chipped my tooth.
Q. You come from a family that has had lots of athletic success. How big are sports for your family?
A. You wouldn’t believe how big sports are for the Torkelson family. My dad grew up as the basketball star at a little high school. My mom got into sports when she married by dad.
Whenever there is a basketball, baseball or football game on in my house, you will know it. I remember getting woke up when I was little from my dad yelling at a call the ref made on the TV.
My uncle is the basketball coach at Illinois Wesleyan, so we would always go up and watch his games. My brother, Kjeld, was always into all the sports too. He ended up beating my dad’s basketball record for the most points in a game, so that was the big thing when Kjeld was a senior. There was a lot of pressure to keep up with my brother all the time, and with my sister (Taya) two years younger than me, I had to be a good role model.