By Jenelyn Russo     11/12/2014

As Rebecca Shea began her high school years at Cornelia Connelly High School, she took some sage advice from her older sister.

“I consider my older sister a role model for me,” says Shea,

“and she told me, ‘You’re only in high school once. Make the most of your high school experience.’”

With those words in mind, Shea stepped out of her comfort zone and tried a sport that was completely new to her.

“I started playing volleyball when I entered high school,” says the 17-year old senior. “I had never played before then.”


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Her risk turned into great reward, as Shea has been able to experience and excel at a sport she truly enjoys.

“I love everything about volleyball,” says the four-year varsity player. “I love how it’s a team sport. It’s really a mind game. All six players on the side of the court have to be 100 percent focused for your side to do very well.”

Shea’s lack of experience didn’t slow her down, and she credits the “loving and welcoming environment” at Connelly, along with the instruction from her teammates, in helping her grow and develop as a player. Now in her final year, Shea is looking to help her team return to the playoffs and is investing in the team’s younger players.

“She’s always looking for ways to get better,” says Connelly’s varsity volleyball coach, Ryan Windisch. “She helps the younger girls and a lot of them look up to her. Rebecca is how we want players at Connelly to be on and off the court.”

Volleyball isn’t the only area where Shea has committed to investing in others. She has spent her high school years serving the Connelly community in roles such as ASB Secretary, School Ambassador, National Honor Society Vice President and Book Club President.

In addition, Shea was one of two students selected from Connelly to spend a summer in New York City, where she represented her school as a fifth grade student teacher at Camp Cornelia in the City, an experience that Shea says, “really brought out the best in me.”

As she looks ahead to college, the Huntington Beach resident is leaning toward schools such as Santa Clara University, University of San Francisco or Wake Forest University, where she plans to study business and continue to play volleyball at the intramural level.

With a faith that she considers central to her identity, Shea has cherished her time at Connelly and is reflective of the experiences and opportunities given to her to make a difference.

“Being a senior has made me think a lot about my life,” says Shea. “I will miss everything about my school and the sport [of volleyball], but I know that I have formed some friendships that will last throughout college and throughout my life.”