Medina setter Ashley Dwyer could easily rest on her laurels.
Many athletes in her position have done it in the past, and many more will in the future.
She doesn’t consider that an option, because there is too much work to do in her final high school season.
“We have the potential to be a fantastic team and go far in the Greater Cleveland Conference and the tournament,” the Loyola Maryland recruit said. “But it goes beyond that for all six of us seniors. We want to leave a positive legacy behind and say we were part of building Medina volleyball into what it can be.”
A fierce competitor, Dwyer took ownership of the team last year when she recognized that it needed a steadying voice on the court during a rough stretch.
Bees coach Joe Ortenzi was delighted to see the three-year letterwinner step forward, having recognized her potential to do so in one of their initial meetings.
“Ashley Dwyer has really taken her leadership role from last year and ran away with it this season,” he said. “She is our rock, our calming factor. Even if things aren’t going our way, she always finds a way to rally the troops and get them to believe in themselves.
“Ashley has become that player who can represent an entire program, and you’re proud to have her on your side.”
Dwyer’s increased visibility is the main reason many coaches believe Medina is poised for a breakthrough season after back-to-back 11-win seasons. Its six league wins in 2017 were its most in eight years.
Individually, Dwyer’s résumé includes numerous club championships with The Academy of Volleyball, two appearances at the AAU Beach Nationals with different partners, including best friend Kacie Evans of Wadsworth, and All-GCC honors.
She also was recruited by a slew of NCAA Division I and II schools before choosing the Greyhounds, who are members of the East Coast-based Patriot League.
Ironically, those accomplishments wouldn’t have occurred if Dwyer hadn’t changed positions at the age of 13.
“I was a right-side hitter, but I became a setter in seventh grade because I wanted to be a leader,” she said. “As a coach’s kid (mom Jill is now a varsity assistant at Medina), I felt comfortable being involved in everything that was going on, even at that age. I guess it’s worked out pretty well.”
Dwyer said her desire to help Medina’s younger players was borne out of her experience as a freshman, which she called “really, really hard” because of a disconnect with the upperclassmen.
For that reason, Dwyer made a special effort to communicate with the Bees’ middle school teams so they wouldn’t feel intimidated when they entered high school this fall.
“It’s not just me, all of our players are on the same page and so dedicated and so close-knit,” Dwyer said. “We had our ‘earn your jersey’ ceremony last week, and it was inspiring to hear everyone share the same goals and values with one another. That’s something you can carry with you throughout the school day and feel good about everything.”
The 5-foot-10 standout also feels good about her classroom pursuits, which include advanced courses in physics and mathematics, along with five academic clubs.
As if that weren’t enough to occupy her time, Dwyer continues to work with a personal trainer and practice her beloved sport almost every day.
“I’m trying to form a connection with everyone in the program because I know how hard it is to fit in at first,” she said. “We’re building a family with Medina volleyball. I’m proud to be part of it and I want everyone else to be, too.”