Rimrock 18s Nationals wins annual alumni tournament
It wasn't just about volleyball Sunday at what could be the final Rimrock Volleyball Club Alumni Tournament.
The annual tournament features current Rimrock Volleyball teams, other high school club volleyball squads from Central Oregon, and teams of former club players.
With Rosie Honl, who is the director of the Rimrock Volleyball Club, retiring as Crook County High School head volleyball coach and scaling back her time commitment to the club, it is unclear if there will be another alumni tournament in the future.
What is clear it that those who participated on Sunday played volleyball at a high level and all had a great time.
When volleyball finally ended, the current Rimrock 18s nationals team came out the winners, taking a narrow victory over an alumni team composed of former CCHS players Casey Loper, Jessica Mumm, Jazmin Orozco, Kaitlyn Duncan, former Madras player Alexis Urbach and former Bend player Callie Prestwood.
The alumni team took the first set of the championship match 25-22 before the 18s national team stormed back to take the next two sets 25-21, 15-4 to win the tournament.
"That's a really good team we just beat," Rimrock 18s national coach Joel Kent said following the tournament. "They made us work for every point."
Altogether, 13 teams participated in this year's tournament, including six teams of former Rimrock players, who took the time to pose for a photo with Kent and Honl just prior to bracket play.
"They love playing, and they will play at any chance they get," Honl said of her former players. "They love seeing each other. It was real good volleyball, and these courts were buzzing all day long. It was fun."
Honl said that she is currently undecided if she will continue to direct the Rimrock Volleyball Club for one more season or if this is the last year.
Either way, she doesn't want the club to die.
"I hope somebody steps in and takes over and keeps it going for the girls to come back and keep playing," Honl said. "They just want to play still. I love that, because if they didn't like to play, it means that I did something wrong."
Despite coming from a small town, Rimrock Volleyball Club has become one of the most successful clubs in the Northwest, and the national team has become known throughout the country for its high level of volleyball.
This year's nationals team has players from Bend, Summit, Ridgeview, Sisters and one player from Crook County, defensive specialist Mekynzie Wells.
Although trying to win the tournament was important, with Honl's retirement, this year was also a time for former players to reflect on what Honl has meant to their volleyball career, and to life.
"It means everything," said Rhea (Wortman) Cardwell, who graduated in 2004. "The lessons that I learned as a player continually impact the way that I make decisions, the things that I pursue, as well as the confidence that I have in myself to do whatever I want."
Cardwell, who is just one of a number of former CCHS and Rimrock Volleyball Club members who has also coached volleyball, credits Honl with so much more than just making her a great volleyball player.
"I think that the foundation of everything else that she teaches you is enthusiasm," she said. "Every player of hers will tell you that she is enthusiastic to no end. When you learn to be enthusiastic about what you are doing and to be excited for life, then doors open for you that otherwise couldn't because you show up and you are happy to be there."
Fellow alumni Chelsea (Reeher) Schwab also credits Honl for her success in life.
"I think that volleyball gave me something consistent throughout the year," she said. "It gave me a team to play with, a lot of amazing girls to know, and it gave me people to look up to. It gave me something that was healthy and good in my life that I could do outside of school. I think that Rosie gave so much of herself that it made the program worthwhile. I got a chance because she poured so much into me to make it a lifetime thing."
Former players pointed out consistently that although volleyball was the common thread that tied them together, Honl taught them more than just how to be successful on the volleyball court.
"Rosie has always been the most positive person I have ever known," said Jennifer Roth, who graduated from CCHS in 2017. "No matter what she does, she puts all of herself into it. She comes in and has a big influence on other people's lives, and that's something that I want to do."
Former players consistently described Honl as more than just a coach.
"She became a mom to me," said Aspen Christiansen, who also graduated in 2017. "Even though I have a real mom, she has been my volleyball mom. She has always taken care of me. I know I can talk to Rosie whenever I want about volleyball or life."
Jazmin Orozco, who graduated several years ago, echoed what Christiansen said.
"She is an outstanding person," Orozco said. "She is the best coach I have ever had. I don't doubt that for a second. She is basically my second mother. She is just an amazing person."
Orozco added that she hopes this isn't the final alumni tournament.
"These alumni tournaments are amazing," she said. "They are very competitive. I always enjoy playing in them. If this is the last one, that would be unfortunate, but all great things do come to an end."
Other words former players used to describe Honl were consistent, hard-working, caring and positive.
"She has shown me patience and that it is more than just volleyball," said Kathryn Kaonis, who graduated four years ago. "You can't just have sports always as a backup in life. School is more important. Rosie is a good example of what you should expect in a good coach. Going off to college, I had that expectation that my coaches would always be as good as Rosie. She showed me that it's not always about just winning."
"I want to be just like her," added Jennifer McCallister, who graduated last year. "She's just so strong and goes through everything with a smile on her face."
While the tournament was still going on, Roth saw Honl picking up trash off the floor.
"No matter what she does, like she's picking up trash right now, she's happy," Roth said. "You can approach Rosie at any time, and she's always happy and upbeat. She is always there to help you, and she pushes me to want to be my best. Rosie instills a drive in you."
Not knowing if there will ever be another alumni tournament or not, former players took some time late in the afternoon to reminisce about their experiences with Honl and volleyball.
Cardwell said that one of the things that she remembers the most about Honl was her enthusiasm teaching a country line dance at one of her early team camps.
"She puts herself out there all the time and is never afraid of what other people will think about her," Cardwell said. "I don't remember what team camp it's from, but probably one of the first ones that she had done, and she gets out there with 'Boot Scootin' Boogie.' Sometimes girls can be cynical, and they can be embarrassed about doing things, and Rosie is just out there booging, and it's infectious, and pretty soon everybody else in the camp is joining along and having a good time. Now they don't even think about it. All the girls know 'Boot Scootin' Boogie' and they do it. It's because of her personality and her character. She doesn't worry about what other people think, she just gets out there and has fun."
Sometimes it's little things that players remember.
"We were at a tournament in Sacramento," Orozco said. "I was serving and it was a really close game, and some girls were talking trash on the side, and I just looked over and gave them this ugly, ugly glare. I had forgotten all about it, but Rosie remembered and it made me laugh. I couldn't believe that she re-membered something that small. Those little things she does, they mean a lot."
Schwab remembers getting in trouble during a tournament.
"We would get into a fight with gummy worms," she said. "We ended up with welts all over our fore-heads and arms at a tournament, and Rosie comes up and scolds us and chews us out, but she's laughing the whole time."
Whether there is another alumni tournament or not, players will always remember Honl and what she means to them.
Schwab summed it up for everyone at the tournament.
"She gave us an appreciation of working together," she said. "She is always looking out for other people's needs. I know that I have talked to her about players that are struggling off the court with family stuff. She cares more than about winning. It's about the individual person, and I think that's why her teams are so successful. They know that they are loved. They are cared for, and they have someone fighting in their corner, whether it is on the court or in life. If we don't appreciate her and what she has done, then we are fools, really."