White Lake's Nightingale hits 1,000 kills, 1,000 pointsWHITE LAKE — Many successful athletes have come from White Lake, but one stands above the rest. That is, when combining basketball and volleyball successes.
By: Brooke Cersosimo, The Daily Republic
WHITE LAKE — Many successful athletes have come from White Lake, but one stands above the rest.
That is, when combining basketball and volleyball successes.
Maria Nightingale has conquered a feat that no other WiLdKat or Wolverine has. The senior has surpassed the 1,000 career kill mark in volleyball and 1,000 career point mark in basketball in the same year.
“This is really something special,” White Lake Athletic Director Bob Schroeder said.
After her junior season, Nightingale said she knew she was closing in on 1,000 career points in basketball but was in shock when she heard how close she was in kills.
“It came as a surprise when (volleyball and basketball head coach Brooke Hermsen) told me how close I was in kills,” said Nightingale, who reached her 1,000th career kill in a match against South Central on Oct. 16 in White Lake. “When I reached it … the feeling cannot be described. It was incredible.”
On the basketball court, the 5-foot-11 center scored her 1,000th career point against Mount Vernon/Plankinton Jan. 14 in Plankinton.
“It’s really been my goal since I started,” Nightingale said. “Sports have been my life and my parents have always pushed me to do my best.”
On the court
She began playing basketball in fourth grade and tried out for the varsity team her seventh-grade year. Nightingale made the varsity roster in eighth grade and has started since her freshman year for White Lake, which didn’t co-op in basketball with Kimball until the 2011-2012 school year. With White Lake, she was a Wolverine. Now, she’s a WiLdKat. The letters in the mascot’s name represent the two towns, White Lake and Kimball.
In the past four years, Nightingale has helped lead her basketball teams to a 38-17 record under head coach Hermsen, a Freeman native.
This season, the WiLdKats are 8-5 and are led by Nightingale, who is averaging 14.4 points per game. She also averages 8.7 rebounds per game and is 56-of-77 from the free-throw line for 72 percent.
Jump, set, spike
Nightingale first picked up volleyball as a seventh-grader. The next year, she made the varsity squad and started. For the past five seasons, she’s been announced as a starter.
Hermsen said the middle hitter enjoyed basketball more when she was younger, but has learned to embrace volleyball.
“When she first started she was into basketball, but the more experience she gained in volleyball throughout the years, she definitely enjoys it more than anything,” said Hermsen, whose team has an 88-29 record in the past four years.
Nightingale agreed, saying she enjoyed both sports but volleyball is where her heart lies.
“I love volleyball,” she said. “I love the adrenaline I get when I hit the ball.”
She wants to play at the collegiate level but has not made any decisions as to where she’s headed.
During her time as a Wolverine, Nightingale helped lead her team to two District 10 championships and one Custer Battlefield Highway Conference title.
Nightingale was out with a back injury at the beginning of the season and was not allowed to play for the first six matches.
Once she was back in uniform, she didn’t waste time chipping away at the milestone. In her first game back, Nightingale recorded 15 kills and 10 blocks in White Lake’s 3-1 win over Wessington Springs.
She finished her career with 1,042 kills, 305 blocks, 146 digs and 54 set assists. Nightingale also recorded a career serving percentage of 89 percent for White Lake, which finished with a 19-6 record in her senior season and does not co-op with Kimball.
“Volleyball has always been something that she’s been very passionate about, and I think her passion for the sport makes her excel in it a little bit more,” said White Lake senior Hailey Mohnen, who has played both sports with Nightingale.
Playing with a team
Although Nightingale has been the player to receive many accolades, she is the first person to credit her teammates.
“My team’s the reason that I’ve reached these two marks,” she said. “All the credit goes to them and it’s really cool that all of them are my friends, and they’ll be my friends after high school.”
Hermsen said Nightingale has been lucky to be a part of successful teams throughout high school.
“She has some good girls around her to lessen the load,” she said. “There are lots of them that stay after practice and that’s what it takes to be successful. It makes things so much easier for Maria, too. The girls now and the ones she played with when she was younger pushed each other every single day.”
Mohnen, who was the White Lake volleyball team’s defensive specialist, said her teammate is a very selfless athlete.
“For every kill she got in volleyball, she gave me credit for getting the pass up so she could get the kill,” she said. “If we try to make each other the best athletes that we can be, we can reach our goals. I think we’ve all helped Maria get to where she wanted to be.”
A true leader
“Leader” was used to describe Nightingale in every interview held for this article.
And there’s a reason for it.
“She is always the one everyone can look up to,” Mohnen said. “Being in the same class together and doing sports together, she always pushes you to do your best. She makes it really easy to enjoy the sport with her.”
Nightingale said she works just as hard at being a leader as she does on the court.
“A lot of girls on my team get down on themselves, and I’m always the one that pulls them back into the game and keeps their head in it,” she said.
Hermsen said Nightingale also leads by example by enrolling in camps in the offseason.
“She enjoys athletics and has gone to different camps to try to improve her skills,” she said. “She’s out there to win and help the team out in every way she can and it shows.”