NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — When it comes to being a standout volleyball player, Ellie Rink wasn’t always the one who stood out.
“I grew late, I was pretty short in seventh grade,” Rink said with a smile. “I was probably like 5-4.”
That’s when she was a short, back row player. Now she’s a nearly 6-foot-tall outside hitter, pounding volleyballs across the net and helping Normal West out to a 15-and-1 record to open the season.
“She’s got it all, the whole package,” said West head coach Kelsey Mueller. “I wouldn’t want to be on the other team. I’m glad she’s on our team.”
Rink comes from a sports-crazy family. She says the members of her family were always playing some kind of sport while growing up and she played basketball, softball and soccer in youth sports leagues.
Her older sister Emma was a standout volleyball player at Normal West, graduating last year. Her older cousin Macy was a star swimmer at Bloomington High School and now swims at the University of Missouri.
Ellie was a pretty good swimmer too. In fact, her family thought swimming might be the Normal West junior’s No. 1 sport.
“My dad really wanted me in swimming because he thought I could be good like my cousin,” Rink said. ” He says I’m similar in build to her.”
But by eighth grade she thought volleyball was best for her. Now she hopes she’ll be able to play in college.
When she was in seventh grade, she played with eighth graders. When she was a freshman, she played on the Normal West team that made it to state.
She’s accustomed to playing with older players on most of her volleyball teams. Now the 16-year-old is the one who’s standing out on her teams.
“I kind of like it,” Rink admitted. “I like feeling that I’m younger and prove to myself that it doesn’t matter much.”