Cougars’ Carroll is good enough now

Allison Carroll finally drummed up the courage to turn out for a sport as a ninth grader at Central Kitsap Junior High. Like a lot of young athletes, she was cut.

No big deal, right? Even His Airness, Michael Jordan, felt the sting of rejection after failing to make his high school basketball team as a sophomore.

But Michael Jordan didn’t get cut by his mother.

That’s right. Kim Carroll, a first-year volleyball coach at CK Junior High at the time, had the courage to cut her 5-foot-10 daughter.

“I had a really, really strong ninth grade team,” said Kim Carroll. “Allison was not as strong. She had never tried out for sports, never played team sports. I had to make a coach decision, not a mom decision.”

At the time, it was tough on both mom and daughter.

“She took it a little hard,” said Kim, who’s still coaching volleyball at the junior high. “I was upset about it, too. I tried to be as professional as I could, but being a mom, it was hard for me to do it.

“She basically said, ‘I’m going to show you.’ ”

And she has.

Allison, now a senior co-captain at Central Kitsap High School, earned first-team all-Narrows Bridge Division honors as a middle hitter this season.

She can smile about getting cut now, but she wasn’t smiling the day she discovered she didn’t make the junior-high team.

“We were driving in the car on the way to school and I wasn’t sure if I’d made it or not,” Allison said. “She kind of hinted I didn’t ... Then I went in and looked at the (posted) list. I had to look at it a couple of times. I couldn’t believe it. It was hard for me to talk without busting into tears.”

Looking back, Allison said her mom was just doing her job.

“It was her first year coaching and I wasn’t good enough right then,” she said. “Now, I don’t even think about it. It all turned out for the better.”

Ultimately, Allison used it as a motivational tool to make sure she would never experience that feeling of rejection again.

“It totally kept me level-headed all the way,” Allison said. “I never took anything for granted after that. I told myself you can always improve. You’ve got to keep going, keep working. I didn’t want that to happen again.”

Central Kitsap coach Gordy Bushaw said Allison, a second-team all-Olympic League selection a year ago, has improved every year at the high school.

“She’s an aggressive, smart hitter,” Bushaw said. “Last year she wasn’t always aggressive and she wasn’t always smart.

“She’s really learned where the open areas on the court are and she really goes after them. She’s also really worked hard on her back row skills. Last year she played front row only and this year she’s playing all the way around. She’s one of our best passers on service receive and one of our best defensive players in the back row.”

Mom couldn’t be prouder of her daughter, who averaged 12-13 kills and 2-3 blocks a game for the Cougars, who shared the Bridge Division title with South Kitsap.

“She’s doing a great job and she’s earned it,” Kim said. “She does 99 percent of her work on her own. Her dad and I will go to the gym with her to just toss balls and toss balls and toss balls.

“She’s got a really good work ethic and she didn’t get that from me. She got that from her dad.”

Navy Chaplain Ed Carroll, who played football and track at Indiana University, is now serving with the Coast Guard in Seattle.

Serving, or Allison’s lack of skill in that part of the game, was part of her problem as an inexperienced freshman.

“Serving’s such a big part of the junior-high game,” said Bushaw. “That’s the first thing junior-high coaches look at. Her mom figured it would look terrible if she kept her own daughter if she couldn’t serve it over the net.”

Bushaw has since offered coach Carroll some advice: “I told her, ‘Don’t cut any more 5-foot-10 girls. We’ll get ’em to serve over the net someday.’”

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