Riley Morris has been right in the middle of very successful volleyball and softball teams for the Pioneer Panthers.
The 5-6 senior was the starting setter on the volleyball team this fall that went 27-10, won the Midwest Conference title and was a regional finalist.
Morris was the starting second baseman on the softball team last spring that went 24-7 and was a semistate qualifier.
Both Panthers teams had their seasons ended in controversial fashion.
The volleyball team started celebrating a regional title at Washington Township after they thought they had won match point. But the call went against them and they went on to lose the five-set heartbreaker.
In softball the Panthers thought they had a couple calls go against them in their semistate game against Lakewood Park Christian. They thought it should have been a 0-0 game after seven innings of play instead of a 3-0 loss.
But Morris has the right attitude when looking back. She also recalled a loss to Frontier in volleyball in semistate play when she started as a junior.
z“I think the experience of going to semistate my junior year in volleyball and softball and losing made me the athlete I am today.”
And Morris is leaving the volleyball program in great shape as the future remains bright, and she still has one more softball season left, when the Panthers should once again be a top contender in Class A in the spring.
The following is a question-and-answer session with Morris.
Q. Of the sports you play, which is your favorite? Why?
A. It’s hard to choose, but I would have to say that volleyball is my favorite sport. It has been such a huge part of my life and I just really love the game! I love how it is a total team effort to get the win, not individual work.
Q. Do you have any family members who played sports?
A. Yes, my mom was a cheerleader, she was on the basketball team and she ran track in high school. She went to Pioneer. My dad went to Lewis Cass and he was a part of the football team, the track team and the wrestling team.
Q. Have you ever played a sport that you were not successful at?
A. I tried swimming my sophomore year ... needless to say that was the end of my swimming career! It’s not that I didn’t like it, I just was so slow!
Q. How do you feel you’ve improved as an athlete since you first started playing?
A. I feel I have improved as an athlete by learning that the mental aspect of the game is just as important as the physical part. I have learned that a positive attitude and the willingness to work hard will take you a lot further that just going out and trying to play the game.
Q. Who do you consider your biggest role model? Why?
A. I consider my parents to be my biggest role models. They both have supported my in everything that I do, and they have taught me over the years that hard work and dedication pays off. They have always told me that if I want something, work hard, do your best and only good things can come of that.
Q. What is something that not everyone knows about you?
A. I absolutely love chapstick!
Q. What is your favorite memory of playing sports at your school?
A. My favorite memory of playing sports at my school would have to be when we beat Harrison in volleyball at the Harrison Classic! It was just awesome being able to play in an atmosphere like that. It was such an intense game! No one expected us to beat them either. The feeling of accomplishment from beating a team that is so much bigger than us made it all the more satisfying.
Q. What’s your favorite music, movie, TV show, etc.?
A. My favorite artist would have to be either OneRepublic, Maroon 5 or Katy Perry. Right now I am loving Katy Perry’s song Dark Horse. My favorite TV show is Ravenswood. I don’t have a favorite book, I don’t really like to read. Favorite sports team would have to be whoever is on, I don’t really follow any particular teams. I just like to watch them all! And my favorite movie would have to be Pitch Perfect, it makes me wish I could sing!
Q. Who is the best athlete in your respective sport you’ve ever gone up against?
A. The best athlete I feel I have gone up against would have to be Mikeila Boroff from Lakewood Park Christian. She is their pitcher and she is just awesome!
Q. What are your goals for your future? Do you plan on attending college?
A. Yes, I plan on attending either Purdue or IUPUI and majoring in business.
Each week during the school year the Pharos-Tribune recognizes an athlete from one of five area high schools. The recipients are selected by each school’s athletic department.