Despite parting their ways for college, two Clearwater-Orchard graduates have kept up through what brought them together in the first place -- their love for volleyball.
Emily Filsinger and Mallory Cooper both split their ways for college, taking Filsinger to Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska and Cooper to Dakota Wesleyan in Mitchell, South Dakota. At Hastings, Filsinger is currently in her senior year keeping busy with her major -- business administration, a minor in accounting and receiving a coaching endorsement. Cooper is currently in her sophomore year, majoring in nursing.
In the future, Filsinger hopes to be working as a business manager at a school and have a coaching position as well. After graduating, Cooper hopes to find a job as a registered nurse in a rural area hospital, and maybe one day become a nurse practitioner.
Along with all of their studies, the two keep busy playing volleyball for the Broncos and the Tigers. Although she played as a middle hitter, Filsinger plays as an outside hitter, but is used mainly in the back row and serving. As for Cooper, she switched gears from high school where she was an outside and middle hitter. Now in college, she plays as a defensive specialist, and left back.
Even though the game of volleyball is a drastic change from high school to college, the two Cyclone alumni have taken the challenge head on and found their love for the game even strong
“Playing college volleyball compared to high school is different in every way. The game is faster, hits are harder, competition is more intense and pressure rises, but you also get to play with women who have the same passion and love for the sport as you do,” explained Filsinger.
The passion these two have for the sport has helped them build stronger relationships not only each other but their family and community back home. Throughout their seasons, the two of them have received support from many individuals throughout the Clearwater and Orchard communities as well as each other.
Cooper stated, “There's no better feeling than walking into the gym and seeing a friendly face! I love getting to see Em play the game that she loves. It's different being on the other side of the net, but it's also so exciting! I love getting to see the Filsinger family at games too! Even though I'm on the other team, I can always hear them cheering for me! They have always been so supportive of me, and I appreciate them so much!”
Thankful for the opportunity to continue playing volleyball, the two give their thanks to the community and one of their biggest supporters, Shelley Mlnarik. Mlnarik coached the two girls during high school volleyball, and always pushed them to be the best they can be.
“I didn’t truly consider playing college volleyball until my senior year of high school after our team attended a few camps and tournaments. A few college coaches talked to me and my coach Shelly Mlnarik about playing in college. She is one of the main reasons as to why I am here playing at the level I am! She encouraged and showed me what I am capable of and always worked hard on getting me noticed,” Filsinger explained.
College volleyball and the constant support has given Cooper and Filsinger a passion for the sport, and they continue to appreciate all of the support from Antelope County.
Cooper gratefully said, “I'm also so proud to say that I came from Clearwater-Orchard high school, and I am now playing volleyball at the college level. I wouldn't be here without the support of so many people! It's amazing how much small town support I get, and there's no better feeling than knowing how many people back home are rooting for me! I've had so many people from Orchard, Clearwater, and surrounding towns come watch me play, which is something truly special. I'm proud to be Cyclone alumni, and I couldn't be more thankful of where I'm from.”