Morris native Hattie Monson is using volleyball to see the world.
Monson, who will be a junior at Benet Academy in Lisle this fall, recently was one of 20 players from around the country to be invited to the USA Volleyball Girls National Youth Team tryouts in Colorado Springs. The team was trimmed to 12, and Monson was one of the 12 players named to the national team.
On Friday, Aug. 24, Monson and her teammates will be traveling to Honduras to take part in the NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation) championships, which take place Aug. 25-Sept. 2. Other countries participating in the NORCECA championships will be Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Canada and Netherland Antilles.
Monson, a soon-to-be 16-year-old, 5-foot-5 libero who has already verbally committed to play for Notre Dame in college, is more than thrilled at the opportunity.
"First of all, it was a thrill just to be invited to try out," she said. "There were 20 of the top girls my age in Colorado Springs. The tryouts were 15 days and they were held at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center."
At the tryouts, she was under the watchful eyes of the national team coaches, and no one was certain of a spot on the team.
"It was pretty stressful," she said. "We had two sessions a day. The morning session was position work and drills. In the afternoon, we split up into teams and played match situations. The teams were different every day. They wanted to see how everyone worked together and who fit well together. Plus, we had to get used to the thinner air and we were out of breath the first couple days until we got used to it.
"There were only two liberos there, and they kept both of us, so that was pretty cool. Of course, we didn't know they were going to keep both of us, so we were really working hard the whole time. Everybody was. You had to bring your 'A' game every day, every session."
Monson got involved in club volleyball at a young age, playing for Sports Performance in Aurora. Her parents, Eric and Susan Monson, drove her the hour back and forth each day before moving to Naperville in order to shorten the commute. It was then that she decided to apply to go to high school at Benet.
"But, for the national team, I had to list my hometown and I listed Morris," she said. "That will always be my hometown and I have to represent Morris, for sure."
She is also excited about representing her country.
"I have always represented my club or my school," she said. "To have a chance to represent my country is a real honor. They have already sat us down and told us what is expected of us and how we should conduct ourselves in representing our country.
"There won't be a lot of sight-seeing when we are in Honduras. They pretty much told us we will leave the hotel, get on the bus, get off the bus, go into the stadium and the reverse after the matches. It's kind of a third-world country, so we aren't going to be wandering too far.
"I am really excited. I have been all over the country for volleyball, but I have never been out of the country. This will be the first time for that."