Rachel Schnakenberg knew she had her work cut out for her one year ago, having just moved from Virginia to Andover, if she was going to make the powerhouse Golden Warrior varsity volleyball team as a junior.
“I was so nervous,” said Schnakenberg. “The coaches told me I was either going to make varsity or JV and I thought, ‘Juniors can be on JV?’ That worried me. It was tough and I knew Andover had such a good team. But I ended up making it so it was all good.”
Not only did she make the team, but she has emerged as a star for the recently crowned Merrimack Valley Conference co-champions.
“Rachel has really blossomed this year,” Golden Warriors coach George Sullivan said. “She came to us for the first time last year and it was quite an adjustment. But she has improved so much and she is one of our top guns now. She is our go-to hitter.”
With Schnakenberg in the middle, the Golden Warrior volleyball team closed out the regular season with a stellar 19-1 record, having gone undefeated after a loss in the season-opener.
“It’s been a pretty great year,” said Schnakenberg. “We lost that first game, and were upset. But we picked ourselves up and it has been an amazing season since.”
It has been quite a journey for Schnakenberg from her early years growing up on the other side of the country.
She was raised as a girl in Utah, before moving to Virginia when she was in the sixth grade.
“My mother got a job at the Pentagon so we moved out there and Virginia was great,” said Schnakenberg, whose soon-to-be stepfather is former NASA astronaut Robert Curbeam. “People up here think it’s really boring out there. But I was right outside of Washington, D.C., so it was very culturally diverse.”