Clear Creek Amana senior Lauren HelleBy Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN – A month into her senior year of high school Lauren Helle is already thinking about the future.
Helle is considering a career in nursing but hasn’t ruled out studying accounting in college.
After watching her on the volleyball court for the past three seasons Clear Creek Amana coach Jackie Clubb is convinced Helle would have a bright future as an educator.
“She is just an amazing teacher, a great model for the younger kids,” Clubb explained. “When we meet with the players we say ‘talk to Lauren, you can learn so much from Lauren.’”
One of only two seniors in the regular Clear Creek Amana front row rotation Helle has become the leader of a young group of Clipper hitters.
The 6-foot-1 middle leads Clear Creek Amana (14-8) with 134 kills and 32 blocks but her role on the team goes much deeper than statistics.
“The best way to learn is from your peers and Lauren has totally embraced that role along with (seniors) Sheyanne (Koethe) and McKenna (McCreedy) of giving the feedback that they need and I think she likes it,” Clubb said. “I think she does well with it especially with some of the young freshman that want to learn.”
One of four seniors on the Clear Creek Amana roster, Helle was expected to take on more of a leadership role this season.
Helle took that role one step further, becoming a second coach to a group of talented Clipper hitters that include sophomores Shauntina Williams (133 kills) Amelia Pereira and Claire Schwarting.
“There are girls who come up to me and ask how we run this set or run this play and I’m always trying to help them, I always ask them if there is anything they need help with or if there is anything you are confused with,” Helle said. “Really they are accepting of all the feedback that I’ve been giving them and they’ve been eager which is nice. They really want to learn, they want to get better.”
Helle knows what it is like to be the young player on a team full of veterans.
She got her own education on the court as a sophomore in 2014 playing on the Clippers state semifinal team that finished 27-10.
Helle started halfway through that season and helped the Clippers to its first state tournament win since 1999 with a quarterfinal victory over Sioux City Heelan.
“I never wanted to make a mistake for the older girls,” Helle said of her sophomore season. “I wanted to play hard because I knew how good they were and I knew how good I wanted to be.”
Helle finished her sophomore season with seven kills but had 25 blocks, good for sixth on the team despite playing less than half that season.
Embracing that role as a blocker was something that Helle picked up on early.
It’s also something that she tries to pass on to the younger players that may be in a similar position now.
“You have to accept your role,” Helle said. “I feel like all the girls want all the glory and I think it’s hard because you have to accept why you are there. The reason I was there as a sophomore is because I contributed blocking.”
“I love to block and I wasn’t the strongest hitter and I knew that. I wanted to do my role as well as I could and it took some time getting to know what role was but as soon as I knew I said I’m going to do it all 100 percent the best I can because that’s what they need me for and I want to be there for them.”
Last season as a junior Helle began to blossom into a threat in the front row.
She finished fourth on the team with 95 kills and led the Clippers with 62 blocks.
This season as a senior Helle has contributed more than just leadership. Her 134 kills are already a career-high and she is hitting .265 despite being more of a focus for opponents.
“She is a girl that wants the ball, wants to attack the ball and wants to get a kill every single time,” Clubb said. “That tentativeness has gone away, her confidence has grown as a hitter. She wants to get the ball and put it away.”
Helle also wants to help her teammates succeed with her past experiences.
She knows what it’s like to wonder if you can compete with players at the highest level.
“It’s not easy as a younger person going and playing with high-level girls and it’s intimidating,” Helle said. “I want to be that girl that helps them out and sets that example so that’s really want I’m trying to do.”