Return to Sports
by Greg Talkington
(Monday, August 24) PHILIPPI -- Sometimes when the tension resulting from a busy schedule overwhelms her, Philip Barbour's Jessica Maunz likes to go to the local driving range and hit a bucket or two of golf balls.
"I'm really terrible at it," she said. "Actually, sometimes,
I'm more tensed out after going there than I was before.
"My boyfriend gets mad at me and tells me 'You can't be good at everything.'"
Not that she doesn't want to be or hasn't tried.
Barring injury or some unforeseen circumstance, by the end of the upcoming school year, Maunz will have accomplished a feat few high school athletes accomplish Ñ 12 varsity letters in three sports.
The Philip Barbour senior has excelled in volleyball, basketball and softball during her prep career.
As a junior, she helped lead Philip Barbour to the state volleyball tournament where she made the all-tourney team. Last spring, she batted over .500 for the softball team in making first team all-Big 10 Conference.
On the hardwoods, she's earned second team all-league honors twice and once scored 32 points in a game.
Not only has she lettered nine times in those three sports, she's been a starter in each of them since midway through each season as a freshman.
Despite her prowess in all three, volleyball is clearly her favorite and the one she's had the most success in. She's been all-Big 10 twice and was the league's player of the year last season.
"I didn't start playing until middle school," Maunz said.
"We didn't have a team, but we played it a lot in gym class and I really picked up on it fast and developed a real love for the game."
She did play on the Philippi Middle School girls basketball team and developed her softball game by playing "a lot of backyard baseball with friends and family."
She credits her sweet swing to her mother, Twyla.
"My swing is exactly like my mom's," Maunz said. "She's played some softball in leagues, but they didn't have girls sports when she was in high school."
But that didn't stop her from playing.
"My grandfather (Russell Wagner) was the high school coach and my mom and my uncle Danny (Wagner, Philip Barbour's boys basketball coach) were at every sporting event around," Maunz said. "She was always playing ball with uncle Danny and his friends."
With that kind of background to work from, it's easy to see why Maunz' athletic ability comes so naturally. But she's not over-awed by it in the least.
The first thing one notices when talking to Maunz is the use of the word "we." She's genuinely excited about the Colts' chances of having outstanding years in volleyball and basketball, not what she can accomplish on her own.
"We have a lot of players returning from last year, plus Amy Markley has come back out after setting out the last two years and we're all thrilled," said Maunz.
"She's going to really make a big difference in our (volleyball) team."
Her volleyball and softball coach, Debbie Spears, says humility is Maunz' biggest asset.
"She's truly a humble person," Spears said. "She has a lot of natural athletic ability, but she's not content to get by with that.
"She gives 110 percent in everything she does and that's the kind of quiet leadership coaches love."
Maunz admitted disappointment in last season's basketball team, which saw a losing record despite high expectations.
"We really thought we would go to the state tournament, not have a losing season," the 5-foot-9 Maunz said. "I believe we'll do much better this year, especially if we can get (6-foot-2) Sarah Jones to come out.
"She would give us the physical presence we need inside. I had to play center sometimes and I'm really more of a small forward."
Despite all the time and effort put into sports, Maunz has managed to excel in the classroom, too.
She's in the Honor Society, was vice-president of the junior class and is a parliamentarian in the Student Council while maintaining above a 3.5 GPA.
Maunz isn't quite sure what she'll pursue in college after graduation next June.
"I'd like to go into either sports medicine or teaching," Maunz said. "And I'd love to play college volleyball."