Athlete of the Issue: Harper Pertchik ’20

Harper Pertchik ’20 is a three-year Senior on the Varsity Volleyball team. She is a co-captain and has led the team to its best record in over five years. Teammate Ashley Kase ’21 said, “Harper has been an amazing leader, player, and teammate over the past two years. She led our team to one of the best records in recent years and inspires everyone she plays with through her dedication to volleyball, constant support, and ability to step up when we need it. Her hard-working mindset and talent have showed in our team’s success; she has been a pivotal part of Hotchkiss volleyball.”
What has been your favorite moment playing volleyball at Hotchkiss?
I just love the way the team works together, and all of that shows on Taft Day, when we have the most fans at [our]
game. I think we work best together when we have our fans there cheering us on [as opposed to] when we are working alone during a practice. During Taft Day, our team spirit is just unbelievable, and we just all play together. It’s pretty amazing.
What were some goals for the season and how did the team meet them?
Some goals we had were definitely to not have any drama, because there has always been a lot of drama on the team. I know my Lower-Mid year was horrible, [and] I heard the year before that was even worse. Last year [the amount of drama] improved, but there was still a lot of bickering, and I’d say this year we had no drama at all. The new girls were incorporated into the team quickly. They are all really kind, and I think the girls [who] are returners [and] people [who] returned to the school but were new [to] the team contributed a lot to [our] success on and off the court.
How has the volleyball program changed throughout your years here at Hotchkiss?
There [was] just so much drama during the [previous] years I have been on [the team]. The team just didn’t work well together. In the past years, people were looking out for themselves more than they were looking out for the team as a whole. I think Ginny [Barnes ’19] and Nia [Warren ’19] did a really good job last year of promoting team bonding, and that showed this year in the returners.
Who has inspired you the most on your team?
My co-captain Maggie [Ottenbreit ’20 has inspired me the most]. She [always has a] positive energy on the court. Even if I’m having a bad day [and] even when she is having a bad day, she
pushes through it. She knows how to make everyone on the court feel better about themselves and have a more positive energy.
What do you love most about volleyball?
[I appreciate] everything [volley- ball] has given me. I started playing when I was five at the YMCA. We had a mini net and a mini ball, [but] I realized [volleyball] was what I wanted to do then, and it has been something that has been a huge part of my life since I can remember.
I started playing club [volleyball] when I was a fifth-grader, so that meant traveling every weekend to Orlando or Tampa, which was a three-hour drive [from my house] and sleeping there every weekend from fifth grade until freshman year. It was a huge time commitment, but…I met all kinds of people, and that contributed to why I decided to go to boarding school. Volleyball has just always been a consistent [support] for me. Whenever I was upset, volleyball was something that I could turn to and forget about whatever was going on in the world.
Is there any advice you would give to the younger members of your team?
Appreciate the sport as much as you can while you’re at Hotchkiss, because it can take your mind away from the stress, and this place can be really stressful. I just think that giving [a team] your all, going out, playing sports, and being a part of [a] team can make your experience here so different.
Whether it’s at the varsity level or at the club level, just being a part of a small- er community [with]in our community can be so supportive. Having role models to look up to and then one day becoming a role model yourself is the history of Hotchkiss. You really feel the system that everyone has gone through since 1891. You just feel a connection to the school through the teams and being together. I think that is what Hotchkiss and boarding schools are about.