Community Christian's Leah McDaniel: Norman Area Character Counts – Presented by Integris Norman Express Care

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By John Tranchina

For Leah McDaniel, living up to the lofty standards that previous volleyball teams have already established at Community Christian High School is important, and it is a major reason that she took it upon herself to step up as a team leader this season.

“Last year, I talked with one of the other seniors and we decided that we would step up as leaders this year, and that we would make sure that we were the class that people remembered, but that they also knew what to do once we left,” said McDaniel, a senior. “This year is one of my first times really having a position on varsity, so I’ve been doing my best to try to step up, to be someone that’s a leader and that other people can rely on.”

The Royals went 27-8 last year, falling in the Class 4A state semi-finals after winning the Class 3A state championship the year before. McDaniel acknowledges that the past history of success motivates today’s team but also puts a bit of an extra burden on them.


“I think it adds a little pressure, because we are a different team, but it’s also exciting to see where we can go and how we can leave the legacy,” said McDaniel, who also plays soccer at Community Christian. “I think this year, it is all heart for us. We have a new coach this year, so we are understanding that we might not even make it to state this year, and understanding that whatever happens happens, but we are going to give it our all, no matter what. Because the girls that were our leaders when they took it to state, they had all the heart.”

In her leadership role, McDaniel tries to be a more nurturing, supportive mentor type who lifts up her teammates.

“I think for me, I really like to encourage the younger girls, because I know for some of them, it’s really difficult to get into volleyball and understand how the game works,” said McDaniel, who also is involved in the National Honor Society, Key Club, and is captain of Community Christian’s drum line. “So during practices or whatever, I’ll always be encouraging, saying, ‘You’re going to get it,’ or give advice.”

First-year Royals coach Melody Steelman confirms that McDaniel has been having an impact.

“From the moment I met Leah this past summer, I knew she was a hard worker, someone dedicated and driven to succeed,” Steelman said. “She has gotten out of her comfort zone and stepped up and demonstrated her leadership abilities with the younger players this season.”


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