Update, as of Jan. 3:
At the 14th annual Under Armour All-America Girls’ High School Volleyball match on Dec. 31, Van Den Elzen helped the First Team, Team Pressure, take the win over Team Savage, winning all three sets. She ended the match with three digs, two kills, and a solo block.
Four-year varsity volleyball player outside hitter Macy Van Den Elzen continues to amaze not only fellow peers, but community members with her commitment to athletics as well as her display of leadership.
The abstract of her career consists of her accomplishments, good deeds, and rewarding moments. Van Den Elzen contributed to raising money for her younger brother’s autistic support classroom. She accomplished this by receiving aid from sponsors to match the number of dollars with kills. As a result, she’s raised over $10,000 during her time at Emmaus.
Van Den Elzen finds herself humbled to have an opportunity to implement her skills for something meaningful in her life.
“I’m proud to have used the game as a platform to pay forward my gifts,” Van Den Elzen said. “Paying forward my blessings is very important to me.”
Van Den Elzen wishes to continue to take that generous attitude as she moves forward on her journey through college and throughout her lifetime.
Aside from her altruistic acts of kindness, when she steps foot on the court, she has the spirit of no other. A spirit that her teammates describe as “inspiring” and “positive.” One that has helped lift others from a discouraging game or even altered the atmosphere in any given place. Because she’s a team captain, there is an obligation that accompanies that. She holds the responsibility of reassuring teammates and playing the role of a “big sister.” A common misconception relating to team captains is that they always must be serious and authoritative. Van Den Elzen proves that misconception to be false and exhibits that through her empathetic and compassionate character.
Senior libero Kelsie Baus provides insight on who Van Den Elzen is as a person and how others are able to rely on her.
“Her role is being someone that other players can look to for positivity and encouragement when things aren’t going our way during a game,” Baus said. “I think Macy is influential to a lot of people, especially the girls on the Emmaus High School team.”
Van Den Elzen’s unprecedented skill is what earned her a place on the Under Armour All-American First Team. This team comprises the best 24 high school senior volleyball players from around the country. Hundreds are nominated each year and those who are selected, compete against each other. This year, the match will be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World. Van Den Elzen’s dedication and consistent effort are recognized across the nation for she is the first player from Pennsylvania to compete in four years as specified by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
A wave of emotions washed over Van Den Elzen as she received the news. It was back in Oct. and when she arrived from school that day, her father told her. Her initial reaction was to scream because of the disbelief that this opportunity was in front of her. Following her reaction, she claims she was in shock that she would be playing alongside some of the best volleyball players in the country.
Van Den Elzen shared that her head coach Brianne Giangiobbe informed her that of 894 nominees, 150 were selected, and of those 150, 24 were selected to participate in the match on the “First Team.”
Besides her place on the All-American First Team, the 6-foot-4 Van Den Elzen and her teammates cooperated in a collective effort to qualify and compete in states two consecutive years; this being the first time in 23 years for Emmaus. She will leave Emmaus being able to express that she was a part of something special.
Apart from helping her team qualify for states, she set records on the way.
“I was the first junior to at Emmaus to record 1,000 kills,” Van Den Elzen said. “I also now hold the school record for kills in a match , kills in a season , and career kills [1,499].”
Along with her records, she was named the team’s Most Valuable Player as well as the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference girls volleyball MVP and to the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association all state team.
Emmaus boy’s volleyball head coach and first-year girl’s volleyball assistant coach Ken Dunkle had the chance to witness Van Den Elzen’s talent on the court. Dunkle describes Van Den Elzen as “mature” and “passionate.” He considers her to be athletically inclined and an outstanding team leader.
“When an athlete’s abilities exceed most of their peers, it is not uncommon for them to think they don’t need to work as hard,” Dunkle said. “Macy is the opposite; she is the most grounded, humble, and grateful athlete I’ve coached.”
Dunkle regards Van Den Elzen as an effective player on the court. He acknowledges her ability to be comprehensive and have a strong “volleyball IQ.” He mentions the components that went into her becoming an improved player such as her mental, physical, and emotional attributes.
“With her maturity love of the game, Macy seems to know when it’s appropriate to be a goofy friend or sister to her teammates and when it’s time to set the tone and lead,” Dunkle said. “Players like her make a coach’s job easier and while I would’ve liked the opportunity to coach her all four years, I am grateful that I was able to work with Macy this year.”
Behind every exceptional player, there are a number of elements that play into it. To maintain her best self during games, she ensures that her intake of certain foods and practice time balance out. Van Den Elzen trains by integrating weight training in addition to her regular practice and analyzing film from past games. Van Den Elzen weight trains two to three times a week when she isn’t practicing, which also takes place two to three times a week.
The driving force that prompted her to play volleyball came from the London 2012 Olympic Games. She was intrigued by the sport and concluded that she was going to play. This led to her joining her church’s Catholic Youth Organization team and eventually the club team East Coast Power.
Junior outside hitter Haley Dikeman shares her thoughts on how Van Den Elzen impacts her life.
“Macy is my big sister,” Dikeman said. “She would always give me advice on how to improve my skills and inspired me to be a better team player.”
Van Den Elzen is optimistic about what lies ahead. In the offseason, she plans on participating in the Under Armour All-American match on New Year’s Eve, competing with her club team, and preparing herself for her next four years in college.
Now committed to playing in Division I volleyball at Penn State [in the Big Ten Conference] under coach Russ Rose, Van Den Elzen anticipates a new learning experience being a member of the team. Penn State’s volleyball team is currently ranked eighth in the nation, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association and with respect to her high school career, she plans to utilize what she has gained from it and incorporate it into future matches.
Van Den Elzen believes that whenever a player steps on the court, it’s a chance at getting better despite the circumstances.
According to Van Den Elzen, Emmaus provided her with the opportunity to develop into the player she is and achieve her goals. Although she will move on to play for Penn State, she says she won’t forget the everlasting memories she’s made with her teammates over the past four years. Her most cherished moments come from the long bus rides to games and practices that felt like forever.
Longtime friend and teammate Kelsie Baus conveys her final thoughts on Van Den Elzen’s future.
“I wish her the best of luck at Penn State both academically and athletically,” Baus said. “She has the brightest future ahead of her and I can’t wait to see how all of her hard work has paid off.”
Whether it is peers or members of the community, everyone has something to learn from Van Den Elzen. Her uplifting personality and motivation demonstrate a sense of leadership to many people and wherever she goes, she is bound to keep up a positive aura.
This story was originally published in The Stinger’s December print issue on Dec. 17.