BRADENTON, Fla. — Lakewood Ranch High School beach volleyball players and sisters are headed to the collegiate level. Brooke and Ashley Pater got serious about beach volleyball about five years ago when their parents installed a beach volleyball court in the backyard.
“Right then and there when we got that volleyball court we’re going full beach; we’re going to play college sports because we’re going to be equipped to do that,” Brooke, 17, said.
The investment paid off after months of working with the homeowners’ association.
“That really made Brooke and I expand our beach volleyball,” Ashley, 16, added. “I really got to work on so many skills other girls didn’t get to work on.”
Brooke will play beach volleyball at the University of Tampa next year and Ashley will graduate high school early and move to California, where she will be a member of Southern California’s top-ranked beach volleyball team.
“When I get there, I’m going to have great coaches, a team that wants to work just as hard as me. It’s going to be super intense,” Ashley said. “It’s going to push me to my max. I’m excited about that because post-college I really want to play pro. This is the step to get where I want to be.”
To assist in finding the right school, the sisters worked with Next College Student Athlete (NCSA). It’s a college athletic recruiting organization that connects middle and high school student-athletes with college coaches.
“We all know skills help you get recruited, but NCSA reaches out to all the coaches that were a big help for Brooke and I just getting noticed,” Ashley said. “It helped me send film easily to the coaches, text them whenever I needed to. Just helped me keep in touch with them, letting them know that I am interested.”
Ashley’s resume stacks up with the best of them. She has won eight national championship events with club teams. Next year comes the big change when the sisters go their separate ways.
“It’s so tough. We are literally best friends. We spend 24/7 together,” Brooke said. “We do everything together, so it’s definitely going to be a challenge.”
“Brooke and I have talked about it,” Ashley said. “We just want what is best for each other. Tampa is the perfect school for her and USC is the perfect school for me. It’s going to push me to my limits.”
When the sisters leave for college, there won’t be as many great plays on the backyard court, but there will be less sand everywhere else.
“We’re tracking it in our house. It’s crazy,” Brooke said. “We had to fill it up a year ago for all the sand dumped in other places.”