— BY GREG WEBB
PEASTER — Vernon College had a fortunate leg up in their recruiting process while trying to attract Peaster senior Karissa Wolfenberger to join the Lady Chaparrals volleyball squad and attend classes at the junior college, which is about a two-hour drive to the northwest of Peaster.
Not that Vernon did not stand on its own merit, with a more-than-decent volleyball history and study curriculum, one of Karissa’s long-term wishes was to go to college with one of her former Lady Greyhounds’ teammates.
“When I went for my visit to Vernon, I liked the campus and everyone was very nice,” Wolfenberger said at her recent letter-of-intent signing celebration, “and I loved [head coach Tatiana Booth].
“But Blair [Smotherman] and I had talked about going to college together when we were both in high school, so that really made the decision a lot easier for me.”
Wolfenberger and 2013 Peaster grad Smotherman, have been good friends since Karissa was a freshman, and will renew their teammate status next year with the Lady Chaps.
Karissa, daughter of Sherri and Travis Wolfenberger, has an impressive volleyball resume as she heads off to play at the next step. The middle blocker helped propel the Lady Hounds to postseason play in 2013, was named to the all-district First Team in District 9-2A and was also an All-Parker County first teamer. Heading up a very young Peaster varsity team, Wolfenberger was one of two seniors on the squad, along with classmate Sandy Weyenberg.
Karissa is excited about the future for the Lady Chaps.
“Vernon has done well in the past, and I think we will be good next year, as well,” she said. “Coach [Tatiana] Booth is taking over the program in the coming season and I think everyone is looking forward to playing under her.”
Wolfenberger will take care of her basic requisites while attending Vernon for the next couple of years, but has designs on concentrating future studies in the realm of the animal kingdom, specifically regarding big game.
She also has intentions to continue her athletic career at a four-year institutions, and while name-dropping Midwestern State (Wichita Falls) as a possible candidate, said that there were a slew of other next level coaches making inquiries about her future plans.
Karissa has been all about future plans for a good while. Beginning her volleyball career as a fourth-grader, it only took her a couple of years to decide life on the court was to be her pursuit through her Peaster years, and beyond.
The student-athlete turns sweetly emotional when talking about her goals coming to fruition, and the memories she takes with her from Peaster.
“I’ve just loved playing here,” she said. “Everyone, the coaches and my teammates, have just been wonderful. I can’t even begin to describe how awesome this whole experience has been.”