By Lee Davis
Believe it or not, Sara Carr’s introduction to volleyball came comparatively late in life.
“I started playing basketball in first grade, but I was in seventh grade when I first played volleyball,” she said. “The skill set is a little different, so I probably wasn’t physically ready to play volleyball any earlier than that.”
Maybe not, but her volleyball talents caught up quickly. By the time Carr reached Mountain Brook High School, she was a classic two-sport star. Ironically, the sport she started last became the one she loved the most.
“I really enjoy playing basketball,” Carr said. “Volleyball is my passion.”
Carr’s passion served her well last season. The junior outside hitter had 648 kills with 513 digs and 81 aces in leading the Lady Spartans to their first-ever Class 7A volleyball title.
And like all great athletes, Carr was at her best when the stakes were highest. She produced 16 kills in Mountain Brook’s 3-1 upset of Hoover in the championship finals. The Lady Bucs had defeated the Lady Spartans twice in the regular season.
Although Carr was named state tournament MVP, she insisted on tossing credit in other directions.
“This is a cliché, I know, but our victory was truly a team accomplishment,” Carr said. “Volleyball may be the most team-oriented sport of all. We had a great team spirit from beginning to end, and we were determined to win the state title. We’re already talking about doing it again next year.”
Carr also shared the Over the Mountain Volleyball Player of the Year award with John Carroll Catholic’s Kelsi Hobbs and was chosen as Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year for Alabama.
Carr’s run of excellence didn’t end on the volleyball court. As a basketball forward, she averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds a game in leading Mountain Brook to a 19-11 record and a postseason playoff berth.
“I don’t get quite as stressed about basketball as I do volleyball,” Carr said, laughing. “But I do really like to win, no matter the sport.”
Her accomplishments are impressive enough to earn her the distinction of being named the 2014-15 Over the Mountain Girl Athlete of the Year by the Over the Mountain Journal.
Spain Park golf standout Patrick Martin was named the Over the Mountain Boy Athlete of the Year.
“It’s really stunning to be named Athlete of the Year,” Carr said. “But that also makes it so important to emphasize that anything I achieved couldn’t have been done without support from my teammates, coaches, the school administration and our entire community.”
She also had special words for Mountain Brook striker Sara Chandler Mitchell, her teammate and close friend.
“Sara Chandler is one of my best friends,” Carr said. “I couldn’t have had as many kills as I did without her.”
Carr’s coaches probably rank among her greatest fans.
“Sara is a special player,” said Lady Spartan volleyball coach Haven O’Quinn. “She’s a fun player to coach because she is never satisfied with her game. Sara is intense and competitive – and at the same time very humble. She is a great leader both on and off the floor and is very deserving of this honor.”
Mountain Brook basketball coach Mark Cornelius said Carr’s work habits may be the secret to her success.
“Sara’s work ethic is unparalleled,” he said. “Her selfless play makes her a joy to coach. Sara is truly an amazing young lady.”
Incredibly, the best may still be ahead for Carr as she prepares for her senior season. In volleyball she already holds the school career record for most kills with 1,434. She is second for career digs with 956 and well within striking distance of the top spot. Her priority, of course, is bringing home another blue trophy next season.
“There would be nothing sweeter than winning another state championship in volleyball,” she said. “I’d like to see us go further in the basketball postseason, too.”
Carr’s college plans are already set. She will play volleyball at Emory University in Atlanta and major in chemical engineering in 2016-17.
“You could say I like math,” she said, laughing.
And when you do the math, it’s obvious that Sara Carr is a deserving choice to be 2014-2015 Over the Mountain Girl Athlete of the Year.ϖ