By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune
---- — With both of her parents being coaches, Claire Crum was raised around volleyball and her knowledge and love of the game showed throughout her career.
The Lewis Cass senior’s career culminated by earning All-Mid-Indiana Conference honors this season.
Standing in at just 5-foot-4, Crum finished third on the Kings in kills (145), second in digs (200) and tied for first in aces (48).
“Claire brought a lot of energy to they gym every practice,” Cass coach Gretchen Crum said. “Aside from being her mom, as a coach I appreciated the fact that she brought a lot of energy. She very clearly loved volleyball. She was a team player and got the team fired up and talked to the kids and encouraged them. Her enthusiasm was catching.”
Crum’s father, Denny, is the volleyball coach at Carroll.
Crum was one of three seniors that led the sophomore-heavy Kings (10-18) this season.
“I thought it was really fun. I really enjoyed my senior year,” she said. “Our team got along great. We all improved a lot individually. It was a good season and I really enjoyed it.”
Crum said the biggest win of the season was against Kokomo in four games on Sept. 12.
“It’s always close with them and it was a nail-biter. Everybody was really excited about that one,” she said.
Not only is Crum an all-around standout in volleyball, she’s a three-sport standout as well.
Her best sport might be swimming. She was the MIC champion in the 100-yard freestyle a year ago with a time of 58.48 seconds.
“I’d like to win that again, be MIC champ. I’d like to move on from sectional this year, that’s my big goal, and get the 200 free school record,” Crum said.
Crum said that Jade Sarver set the school record in 2009 with a time of 2:05 and that she will have to cut three seconds this season to break the record. She added she’ll likely have to cut two seconds in the 100 free to make the state finals in that event.
Crum already has a school record in track as she, along with Jenna Yeakley, Emily Robertson and Haley Johnson, own the Cass record in the 3200-meter relay event. The Kings will be shooting to break the record again this season — although without the graduated Yeakley and Robertson — and they’ll also have the record in the 1600 relay in their sights as well.
The following is a question-and-answer session with Crum.
Q. Of the sports you play, which is your favorite? Why?
A. I love all my sports, but volleyball is probably my favorite because I have been around it my whole life. Both of my parents are coaches so I grew up playing the game and now I just love to be on the court with my teammates.
Q. How did you first get started in sports? At what age?
A. My parents love to joke about how I was practically raised in a gym. They have both been coaching multiple sports since before I was born so I have been around sports for as long as I can remember. I used to watch their practices and be a ball girl and by kindergarten they were putting me in youth league basketball and kid swim clubs. I loved sports immediately!
Q. Do you have any family members who played sports?
A. Both of my parents were high school athletes and combined have coached volleyball, basketball, track, cross country and tennis. My Grandpa Fouts was on the Purdue University weight lifting team years ago and my older brother Jared, a junior at Wittenberg University, was a three-sport athlete here at Lewis Cass and now swims at Wittenberg.
Q. Have you ever played a sport that you were not successful at?
A. Yes, I played basketball through eighth grade and I was way too small. I just got knocked down all the time or I fouled out. I also tried high jump in junior high track and that was just a terrible idea!
Q. How do you feel you’ve improved as an athlete since you first started playing?
A. I feel like I have become a much better competitor. I have always been competitive, but throughout high school I have learned that just wanting to win isn’t enough, you have to work for it! I have really learned to push myself as hard as I can and not to back down from a challenge. I think that has made the biggest improvement for me as an athlete.
Q. Who do you consider your biggest role model? Why?
A. I have been very lucky to have so many great role models in my life, but I have to say I really look up to one of my volleyball club coaches and good friend Rebekah Brown. She used to play volleyball for my dad and despite having three serious ACL surgeries she continues to play volleyball, even at a collegiate level. She really set an example for me on how to work hard in order to be successful and to never give up.
Q. What experiences have you had in sports have made you the athlete you are today?
A. I have had some very close races in swimming and track such as the MIC this past year that have helped me become a better athlete. These races just come down to the final second and this has taught me to fight to the finish and to deal with pressure in any athletic experience.
Q. What is something that not everyone knows about you?
A. Not many people know that I love to go skiing! I started skiing when I was 4 and have become pretty good at it. I have even mastered a couple of double black diamonds in Colorado where my family likes to vacation.
Q. What is your favorite memory of playing sports at your school?
A. My favorite sports memory is probably becoming an MIC champion in swimming last year. I had been training hard for the 100 freestyle all season and it was so fun to have such an intense race and come out on top with my whole team cheering me on.
Q. What’s your favorite music, movie, TV show, etc.?
A. My favorite artist is either John Mellencamp or Florida Georgia Line, but I love anything country or from the ‘80s. My favorite move is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, favorite book is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and I am obsessed with the TV show The Walking Dead. I am also a giant fan of the Purdue Boilermakers!
Q. Who is the best athlete in your respective sport you’ve ever gone up against?
A. The best athletes I have gone up against are Brittany and Bethany Neeley from Eastern. I chased those girls in track for years and now that both of them run at IU I’m not too upset that I was never able to catch them. I usually got my best time when I ran against them!
Q. What are your goals for your future? Do you plan on attending college?
A. I haven’t decided where I am going to college just yet, but I know I want to major in agriculture, probably in animal science or ag communications. I am looking at several schools including Purdue and Findlay University, where I am also thinking about joining the swim team. After college I plan on taking over the family farm, which has been in my family for almost 165 years.
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.