FAIRFIELD — Clare Edminster took the court with her Warde teammates for its season opener with town rival Ludlowe. Ten points in, Edminster registered a kill. Landing awkwardly on her ankle, coach Matt Narwold’s senior co-captain was helped off the court.
“Clare just found out this morning (Monday, Oct. 12) that she has a meniscus and ACL tear,” Narwold said. “Right now, she is working with a handful of doctors. It’s a clean tear on her ACL. It was an approach she has done 10,000 times and on this one she came down on it funny.”
Edminster, a 5-foot-10 outside hitter, was named both first-team All-FCIAC and first-team Class LL All-State as a junior. She has missed Warde’s last two matches with St. Joseph and Ludlowe.
“Clare will need surgery, but she wants to play through it,” Narwold said. “When she was hurt, she wanted to go back in. Before St. Joe’s, she was up and jumping, moving well, but the swelling hadn’t gone down so she went for an MRI.
“She is not planning on playing in college, which makes this decision a bit more flexible for her,” he said. “I talked to her and she is ready to go back on the court. She is already talking about what she may be allowed to do as far as practice goes.”
Edminster still has swelling and Narwold hopes if all goes well that she may return to action against Trumbull on Tuesday.
“Clare is considering an elite academic school and that is where she is going to focus her college experience on,” Narwold said. “That is why I think these last eight games are important to her. You don’t often get athletes like Clare. This is a testament to who she is: ‘An ACL tear is not going to stop me from finishing my senior season.’ If she was a college-bound athlete, as a coach I would say save yourself and that four years in college as a student-athlete would be more important.”
Edminster, a GameTimeCT Top 25 selection who put up 149 kills, 224 digs and 28 aces a year ago, received a lesson early in her volleyball career.
“As a freshman I was so new to the sport,” she said. “There was this very strong group of seniors. They were all so close, that was an inspiration for me and everyone in my grade. We saw what it means to be a team and we wanted to have that. We have seven seniors, and we all want to make the most of our senior year.”
Narwold said: “Clare is a natural athlete. I was very happy that she chose to play volleyball and not soccer. I recognized it right away that she had a natural ability for the game. But what really impressed me, especially her freshmen year, was her volleyball IQ. That is what brought her up to the JV level, her ability to understand the game — the rotation, why things work and what works well.”
In 2019, the Mustangs finished 17-6 and they were looking to build on a season that ended in the state quarterfinals and the FCIAC semis. That was before COVID-19.
“We are aware how short the season is (10 games instead of 20),” Edminster said of Mia Rembish, classmates Abigail McMichael, Camille Pitaniello, Stewart Gaillard, Riley Parker, and Mikaela Montanaro. “For a while the state only allowed 30 minutes of conditioning. Sept. 21 was the magic day when we could all get together and play. We graduated two setters. Anya Stanton is our new setter and she is doing very well. She is communicating well.”
The truncated slate of games has had an impact on the competition.
Edminster said: “This year is a little different because we don’t get to play everyone. It is a talented league this year with a lot of seniors that will be graduating. We only play Ludlowe, St. Joe’s and Trumbull. It is intense for every game, but. I wish we could play everyone because it would be really good games.”
Club volleyball allows the best to face each other in the offseason. Edminster played for Northeast Volleyball Club.
“It is based in Wilton and we traveled to tournaments in Washington D.C. and Boston,” said Edminster, who has career totals of 246 kills, 348 digs and 57 aces. “There are usually five tournaments a year. Most of the competitive girls in FCIAC play club volleyball.
“I’ve been on the same team with a couple of people, it is always fun to play them in high school and then club. This past season I was with Lilly Saleeby and Cornelia Roach, they both play for Greenwich, and Elle Sneddon plays for New Canaan. In the club scene, it’s a different relationship. It is competitive but you do make friends.”
“In my position, have to play every aspect of the game,” she said. “If I miss a hit, I can’t think about it. I focus on what needs to be done. It is team first.”
Narwold said: “Going back to Clare’s volleyball IQ, is her realizing that maybe that open shot didn’t work. On the next point, she isn’t going to go up and just rip. Being an advanced player, she is going to go to the net, realize what is open and is going to put the ball there. She doesn’t need to look over to the sideline to see from me why is that ball going long, why is that ball going into the net, why is the pass going to tight to the net. Clare just knows and will correct It. That is what makes her one of those elite players.”
Edminster credits one person — brother Owen — for her self-described ‘addiction’ for volleyball.
“Owen was a year ahead on me and was first-team All-FCIAC in volleyball,” she said. “Owen is the one who got me started. I love it a lot, it is one of my favorite parts about high school. Becoming part of a team helped me realize how much fun you can have winning games with your friends. Coach (Narwold) is fun, he is passionate about the game and cares about us. It is nice to have such a supporting coach.”
“I have seven incredible seniors,” Narwold said. “We had a great run last year and we brought a lot of returning juniors, now seniors back, and a lot of girls were ready to show what they could do this year and go for an FCIAC championship. Mia Rembish is our other senior captain and she is doing a great job leading everyone on the court.”
Edminster said: “Everyone on our team is dedicated to volleyball. We know our season is on the line every game. We have to do all we can on the court. If not, the next day it might be cancelled. It is difficult thinking about not playing competitively (in college). I’ll definitely play club volleyball in college. It is hard to say goodbye.”
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