One by one the college volleyball coaches came to Corona del Mar High School in 1988 to scout the Sea Kings, and they usually left raving about a junior named Danielle Everett, who never even played.
"It's amazing," Corona del Mar Coach Charlie Brande said. "She's the only player I've known who had college recruiters asking about her after just watching her in warm-ups. They would call a few days later and say, 'Who was that No. 4? She was awesome.' It made me feel like a fool because I couldn't play her."
Everett was on the bench because she had just transferred from Newport Christian to take an honors calculus class offered at Corona del Mar. Southern Section rules required her to sit out a season as an academic transfer.
"She went to all the practices, every meeting and was on the bench cheering at every game," Brande said. "When I saw she was able to do that, I realized she was a classy individual. That took a lot of guts."
The rave reviews by the college scouts proved prophetic for Everett's senior season. A 5-foot-11 outside hitter, she averaged 19 kills and was named most valuable player of the Sea View League. She helped Corona del Mar (26-3) to the league title, the Southern Section 5-A finals and the semifinals of the state tournament.
And for her efforts, she has been named The Times' Orange County player of the year.
Watching from the sidelines last year wasn't easy for Everett. At Newport Christian, she was the team's most valuable player as a freshman and sophomore, and was used to spiking, not sitting, when the game was on the line.
"(Sitting out) was the hardest thing I had to do," she said. "It was frustrating not to to play, especially because of the time commitment we had with the practices and meetings. I didn't see any rewards at the time. All I had to look forward to was the future."
And to pregame warm-ups.
"I was actually excited about them," she said. "It was the only time I really got to play."
Everett continued working out after her junior year.
When the volleyball season began, Everett didn't waste any time showing Brande and her teammates that the wait was worth it.
In September, she led the Sea Kings to the title in the Chicago Tournament of Champions, which featured 24 of the best high school teams in the nation. She was named the tournament's most valuable player and quickly became the team's leader.
"We really came together at that tournament," Everett said.
The college coaches continued to take notice. Everett has narrowed her choices to Stanford, UCLA, USC and Princeton.
Brande said Everett set an example for her teammates with her dedication her junior year. But her play as a senior gave the team a bigger boost.
"Her intangible is her competitiveness," Brande said. "She averaged a little more than 14 kills a game in the regular season but 26 in playoff and tournament games. She turned it up a notch when it really counted.
"Every time she went head-to-head with one of the best players in the county, like Sara Nelson (of Laguna Beach) and Deanna Doolittle (of Woodbridge), she always won the battle of the statistics and we won the game."
Woodbridge Coach Steve Stratos said his team had trouble stopping Everett in a three-game loss to the Sea Kings.
"Everett's one of the three quality outside hitters in the county along with Nelson and Doolittle," Stratos said. "It's very difficult to differentiate between the three of them. But Everett is the person they went to when they needed a side out."
ALL-COUNTY: GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL FIRST TEAM
Name Yr. School Missy Clements Jr. La Habra Megan Combs Sr. Capistrano Valley Deanna Doolittle Sr. Woodbridge Krista Hartling Sr. Corona del Mar Sara Nelson Sr. Laguna Beach Danielle Everett Sr. Corona del Mar
Name Yr. School Lara Carlsen Jr. Corona del Mar Dawn Austin Sr. Canyon Mary Eberhart Sr. Mater Dei Kathy Harrington Sr. Esperanza Jill Schneider Sr. Magnolia Christy Campbell Sr. Ocean View