Wednesday, September 1, 2010

from JSOnline.Com --

By Dave Boehler, Special to the Journal Sentinel
Aug. 31, 2010

Catholic Memorial senior Dan Casper was a second-team all-state pick last year, one of just two juniors to make all-state. Photo by Ernie Mastroianni

A few years ago, Dan Casper hated volleyball. Now, he's one of the best players in the state.
"I used to call volleyball a girls sport," the Catholic Memorial senior said. "It's pretty amazing. Because my mom forced me to watch my sister's tournament, I play volleyball and then became good at it."

Casper made all-state second team as a libero last season - only one other junior made first or second team - and finished with a school-record 431 digs. He has won Memorial's Hustle Award all three seasons and has made first-team all-Classic 8 Conference the last two years. Casper definitely owes his mom and sister.

Casper was finishing seventh grade and his sister, Lindsey, was playing on a club team as a fifth-grader. Casper's mom, Lisa, told Dan he would have to go to at least two tournaments. So that summer, Dan, who already had plans with his friends, was forced to watch Lindsey play.
"I was pretty mad," he said. "I didn't want to go at all. At the time, I didn't like volleyball and didn't think it was a fun sport." He quickly changed his mind.

"My sister made a diving play to get the ball up with one arm, and I thought it was the coolest thing," Dan said. "I remember when I got home after the tournament, I asked my sister to volley back and forth. That was probably the first time I touched a volleyball. "That's when it started."

After one year of playing in grade school, Dan made varsity as a freshman. "It was amazing he could play at that level so quickly," Memorial coach Mike Hanneman said. "He actually started for me and also received honorable mention all-conference. That says a lot. I don't keep many freshmen on the team. He was an exception. It just points to his natural ability."

Memorial finished as state runner-up that season, and Hanneman recalled almost having to take out Dan in the quarterfinals.

"Dan was pretty nervous because the crowd was so loud, people were yelling and screaming," Hanneman said. "He had a nervous look on his face. He didn't play all that well the first two games (against Racine Park), and we lost those two games. I considered taking him out.
"The look on his face was, 'Coach, I can do this.' We ended up beating them the next three games to move on. A lot had to do with Dan's defensive passing."

As a sophomore and junior, Dan developed a jump serve and his reading of hitters improved as well, according to Hanneman. "He just was more refined as he went along," Hanneman said. "A lot of defense is mental. Maybe as a freshman he was a little nervous. But as he developed, he got more confidence."

Now Dan enters his final year at Memorial, and Hanneman was asked if he's the best player he's coached. "It's close," the eighth-year coach said. "I had a couple of good players come through. Dan's right up there. Probably top three."


In other JSOnline coverage of Crusader Boys Volleyball --

CMH ranked Third in Area

Senior Dan Casper and junior Trevor Novotny listed among "Players to Watch"

"Conference-by-conference previews" puts Novotny at wrong school.

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