She promised to be a sportswriter’s dream: talented, charismatic; an unmistakable one-of-a-kind personality more complicated than she might first seem.
Summer Ross wore jersey #99 because it’s “a big number for a big player.” Somehow, she uttered those words without a hint of arrogance.
During endless August workouts in Hec Ed Pavilion, the gym echoed with excited exclamations: Summer! Summer! Her teammates all but squealed as they marveled at her uncanny ability to keep the ball in play, and to flash a grin that often bordered on goofy.
|Summer Ross (right)|
[Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann]
Ross has a quality that coaches love: the ability to leave behind the previous play—good or bad—and focus entirely on the moment. She never seems to dwell, she never wastes energy gloating.
Some will say she isn’t the offensive force she needs to be to excel in the indoor game. But her full range of skills are a joy to watch: serving, serve-receiving, digging, blocking. Her sand volleyball experience trained her to pursue any ball—and find a way to put somewhere that a teammate can make a play. Some of her defensive saves were flat-out amazing.
If she had stayed in Seattle, it would have been fun to watch her grow. It seemed her skills might be the perfect complement to the fierce power of fellow freshman Krista Vansant.
How much will her departure hurt the Huskies? Keep in mind that USC lost last year’s Freshman of the Year, Falyn Fonoimoana, yet won the Pac-12 and reached the NCAA Final Four. Two seasons ago, UCLA lost two previous Freshmen of the Year--Lauren Cook (who transferred to Nebraska) and Amanda Gil (to Washington)--yet went on to win this year’s National Championship.
Washington can win without her. But those of us in Seattle have all lost a little now that we won’t see Summer each autumn in the gym.