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Pitman grads hard work ends with athletic scholarship
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Over the years Laura Aronson has competed in a variety sports such as track and basketball, but she kept running back to one particular sport, even when she was told she wasn't always tall enough or good enough.

“Volleyball has out-beat them all,” she said.

“To get that hitter's pass straight to the setter, getting a perfect pancake up, a funky kill and, of course, the perfect block against someone who is 6 feet is what makes the sport as thrilling as it is.”

Her passion remained intact even after she was cut by the Pitman High volleyball team during her senior year, which was news that crushed her. She didn't take it personally, though. She just kept working at her favorite sport, and it helped her land an athletic scholarship at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, a NAIA program that noticed her through club volleyball.

There, the 5-foot-7 recent Pitman grad will likely play either right-side or outside hitter.

Aronson's life took a defining turn when she was cut by her high school team after three years of playing at that level.

She used it as motivation, and the teen also understood that college coaches don't necessarily use high school matches to determine if a player is good enough. That's reserve for the more competitive travel ball, something she had been doing since her Turlock Junior High days.

That was the beginning of five seasons of travel ball, which included three years of playing for 18-and-under teams.

“You spend a lot of time with the team to where they become your family,” Aronson said. “Also, it is an opportunity that most volleyball players do not get, so I am grateful to be moving forward in my volleyball career.”

There were a few things she looked for during her college visits. She wanted to be sure the school had English as a major, and that they didn't have no more than 15 players on the roster, because “that meant I would probably sit the bench most of the time.” She discovered what she was looking for at UMFK.

And it didn't hurt that she wanted “to go somewhere completely different than California, so I can experience a new kind of living, and I love the snow so that was a big one in choices.”

Her years of travel ball included playing for Valli Girls Volleyball Club, which is ran by Modesto Junior College coach Dave Winfrey. He's letting Aronson practice with his team this summer, so she can get some training in before going off to college in the fall.

Along with being cut from her high school team, Aronson also had to recover from a broken arm to continue with her sport. She kept on playing through the support of club coaches such as Stacie Reyas. But she's not the only one who has been cut by a high school sports team.

It's been well-documented that Michael Jordan was cut by his high school freshman team, something he has noted that helped him become the greatest basketball player in history.

“I'm positive that Laura is not the only student-athlete who has gone through the heartache of not making the high school team,” said her mom, Sharon Aronson, “but still have the desire, ability and grades to play at the college level.”

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.