TROY — For Camryn Moeller, it was a leap of faith … literally and figuratively.
One year ago, the Troy High School senior was well on her way to an impressive athletic legacy. She already was a two-sport star being heavily recruited by Division I programs to play volleyball in college. Still, though, Moeller — an All-Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division selection both volleyball and softball — wanted something more.
Something largely unheard of in the current athletic climate.
In a day and age where sports specialization is all the rage and high school sports are more often viewed simply as a means to an end — a way to get a college scholarship — Moeller, incredibly, wanted to play a sport for the purest reason of them all.
“I think I wanted to kind of do something just for fun,” Moeller said. “I really just wanted to do something that would let me stay in shape. I just wanted to do do track for fun, but then I ended up doing a lot better than I ever thought I would do.”
And so last spring, Moeller — with no prior experience — decided to go out for the Troy girls track and field team. By the end of the year, she had become one of the top long jumpers in southwest Ohio and was a member of the Trojans’ state-qualifying 4×200 relay team.
“Obviously we were happy to have her,” Troy girls track and field coach Kurt Snyder said. “She came to us and said it was something she wanted to try. We knew we were getting a great athlete, but we really didn’t know for sure what we were going to have her do. She really didn’t even start long jumping for us until halfway through the season. She’s really still learning the event.”
That’s because, up until her junior year, Moeller spent her springs on the softball diamond. She was a two-year varsity letterwinnern at Troy before making the switch to track. As a sophomore, she earned All-GWOC North honors, hitting .391 with 18 RBI, 12 doubles, two home runs and a triple.
Softball was safe and secure for Moeller. She would have remained one of the top players on the team had she chosen to continue down that path.
Instead, she was ready to make her leap of faith.
“I liked playing softball and a lot of my best friends still play,” Moeller said. “I just wanted to try something different.”
Moeller dabbled in sprints the first part of the 2017 season — she continues to be one of the Trojans’ top sprinters — but it was during a chilly April practice when the Trojans were working underneath Troy Memorial Stadium in an effort to stay out of the wind and rain that Troy boys coach Deon Metz — himself a standout long jumper and sprinter at Troy in the early 1990s — noticed Moeller’s potential.
“I figured I’d just come out and run — I really didn’t know for sure what I wanted to do,” Moeller said. “But then one day at pratice we were working under the stadium and ‘Sneedz’ (Snyder) had us running and jumping over hurdles. Mr. Metz took one look at me and said, ‘You’re a long jumper.’ So from that point on, I was a long jumper.”
Moeller was able to use her athleticism and leaping ability — two things she honed on the volleyball court — to become a consistent 15-foot long jumper. While that number was impressive, particularly for someone who had never before done the event, it was only a harbinger of Moeller’s future success.
A jump of 15-1.5 at last year’s Division I district meet was good enough to get Moeller the fourth and final qualifying spot for regionals. At regionals, she had a career day, posting a jump of 17-2.5 — nearly a foot and half better than her previous best of 15-9 — good enough for seventh place, a spot on the podium and an announcement that she had arrived as a track and field athlete.
“Everything just kind of came together for me that day,” she said.
Through four meets this season, she’s already bettered her personal record this season with a jump of 17-3.5 at the Up and Running Invitational. That’s the sixth-best mark in school history. If she can continue to develop over the next few weeks, she’ll have a legitmate chance of becoming a state qualifier.
“That was definitely one of my goals coming into this season,” she said. “I want to qualify for state.”
Moeller’s ascension is all the move impressive considering she’s future Big Ten volleyball player who continues to make that her primary athletic focus.
Last fall, Moeller was named the GWOC American League Co-Athlete of the Year, first-team All-GWOC and first-team All-GWOC American on the volleyball court. She led the entire GWOC in kills with 314, was third in aces (66), fifth in digs (302) and 10th in blocks (52). As a junior, she was named first-team All-GWOC American as she was eighth in the GWOC in kills (209) and seventh in aces (57). Her sophomore year, she was second-team All-GWOC North Division.
Rather than detract from her volleyball, however, Moeller said her time on the track has actually made her in her chosen sport.
“It’s definitely made me a better volleyball player, being able to realize how fast I really am,” she said. “I don’t have to dive for balls as much as I used to. I am able to use my speed and my range to get under the ball more. It’s really helped me.”
It’s been a leap of faith that has paid off in the end.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong