A Gift That Has Grown : For Free Ride, Scofield Puts Rosary on Map

<i> Times Staff Writer</i>

Rosary High School is a two-story rectangle of cinder block and glass that sits in the middle of a Fullerton residential development and appears very much at one with its surroundings. That is to say, Rosary looks more like an apartment building than a high school.

It is a relatively small school, about 570 girls, which makes it easy to know everyone’s name and nearly impossible to keep a secret.

“It’s cozy,” said Stephanie Scofield, Rosary’s star volleyball player.

She doesn’t mean claustrophobic. If there is anyone who loves Rosary High it’s Stephanie Scofield. Numerous times she’s been asked why she hasn’t left Rosary for a larger school such as nearby Troy or Sunny Hills, where her volleyball talents would be exposed to a larger audience and better competition.


She’s been asked how a player of her caliber--All-Southern Section 1-A last season as a junior, two-time All-Sunrise League and the league’s most valuable player last season--could submit to practicing and playing matches outdoors on asphalt for the past three seasons. Rosary doesn’t have a gymnasium.

“I have this feeling I was meant to be here,” she said. “That I was meant to do something for this school.”

That something may be summed up by the venerable Sister Kathryn, the school’s principal, who, after reading a newspaper account about Scofield’s athletic exploits, stopped her in the hall and said: “Stephanie. You’re putting our little school on the map.”

Now, Scofield’s thoughts on destiny is not the talk of someone who rushes to read their daily horoscope or who may believe they knew Shirley Maclaine in a previous life. It is a statement made by someone who has had something truly extraordinary occur in her life.

Stephanie’s father died when she was in the second grade. From that time, her mother, Maxine, reared Stephanie and her older sister Cathy by herself. Not the least of Maxine’s worries was scraping together the tuition money to put each through Catholic grammar school.

Some of the financial strain was eased when Cathy attended Sunny Hills. However, that only served to scare Stephanie who had long dreamed of attending Rosary.


“I was use to a smaller school,” she said. “One where you knew everyone, and you were always able to talk to a teacher. I was afraid I’d get lost in a big public school. I wanted to go to Rosary so bad, I can’t tell you how much I wanted it.”

But, by her eighth grade year at St. Mary’s grammar school, it looked like the money just wasn’t there. Stephanie had pleaded and prayed that somehow, something happen that would allow her to attend the school, but nothing reasonable seemed in sight.

Nothing reasonable.

One night toward the end of that eighth grade year, Sister Kathryn called Stephanie at home and informed her that an anonymous donor was willing to pay Stephanie’s four years of tuition at Rosary. Yearly tuition per student this year is $2,350.

Who would do such a thing? How did they find out about Stephanie’s plight? Who are they?

Anyone’s guess is as good as Stephanie’s, who turns her eyes to the sky when asked about her twist of fate.

“Something happened,” she said. “I don’t know who or what or why. You don’t know how many nights I’ve thought about this and tried to figure it out.

“I can’t. The only explanation I can come up with is that this was meant to be.”

Part of the mystery may be solved on graduation day.

“Sister Kathryn told me the donor may come forth on the day I graduate,” Scofield said. “It’s strange. I don’t look forward to leaving this school, and yet I can’t wait for graduation so I can at least thank the person who has made this all possible.”


Not surprisingly, Stephanie is considering smaller universities to play college volleyball.

Scofield ranks 26th in a class of 147. She says she would like to study chemistry in college.

So, now you see why Stephanie Scofield could never have considered leaving Rosary High.

Even on those days when she reflexively dove for balls on the blacktop when she shouldn’t have.

“I’d get in midair and think to myself, ‘What are you doing? This is asphalt you dummy,’ ” she said. “Those games outside were so much different than playing in a gym. The wind affected everything, and you learned pretty quickly that you don’t dive for balls.”

The asphalt didn’t help her already fragile knees or the right ankle that has sustained such a beating she refers to it as, “rubber.”

This season, under new coach Sherry Ringer, the Royalettes practice and play in gymnasiums. And there is talk that a gymnasium may be built at Rosary in the next few years. Seems there’s been a lot of interest generated by the volleyball team and a gym seems in order for a top team.


“It would be great if they built one,” she said, then adds, laughing, “of course it will be after I’m gone so what good will it do me?”

Where Scofield and Rosary High are concerned, it seems each has made a tidy profit from a cosmic roll of the dice.