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He couldn’t catch a break, except when...

He couldn’t catch a break, except when he snowboarded or played

football.

Those breaks came within a six-month span in 2001 to his left

shoulder while snowboarding and to his left index finger while

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catching a football. Those injuries robbed Scott Smiland of two years

on the volleyball court.

Questions were raised this season about the reserved St. Francis

High volleyball player.

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Could Smiland resist future offers to snowboard? Could Smiland

avoid another fluke injury to finally produce a captivating season?

Fortunately for Smiland, the answers were affirmative.

The Arizona State-bound Smiland recorded a team-best 302 kills,

earned a spot on the All-Mission League first-team roster and guided

the Golden Knights to a berth in the CIF Southern Section Division I

postseason.

Those accomplishments helped Smiland secure the Burbank Leader

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All-Area Player of the Year, which is chosen by the writers and

editors of the Leader and News-Press.

“It seems like I’ve been hurt my whole life,” said Smiland, who

finished his career with 555 kills and 187 digs.

“I just had to learn from my mistakes. I think I would have been

as good then had I not had those injuries.”

Nobody will know except for Smiland, who became the first St.

Francis athlete in seven years to be named to the league’s first

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team.

*

A trip to Mountain High Resort near Wrightwood can be pleasant.

For the 18-year-old Smiland, it’s a common destination to escape the

athletic rigors.

Then something happened that Smiland thought might end his career.

Snowboarding down a hill, Smiland fell and suffered a shoulder

injury. The incident happened about a week into the season, forcing

him to miss all but the final three matches.

“He played through quite a bit of pain at St. Francis,” said

Golden Knight Coach Mark Frazee, who piloted the Golden Knights

(13-6) to a third-place finish in league this season.

“Nothing came easy, that’s for sure. I always wanted him on the

floor if I had the choice.”

Frazee often did not have the choice. That proved to be true in

2002, when Smiland hurt his finger catching a football during a

spring practice at St. Francis.

The 6-foot-2 Smiland, who said he’s declined invitations from

friends to snowboard since the mishap, participated in only five

matches.

A kicker on the school’s football team, Smiland said he hadn’t

suffered a football-related injury in a game during his four varsity

seasons.

“I tried to catch the football and it struck my finger,” said

Smiland, who also plays for the Redondo Beach-based Southern

California Volleyball Club’s 18-and-under team.

“I thought to myself that maybe I’m just accident-prone, and it

was pretty depressing calling Coach Frazee about the injuries.

“If anything, sitting out the two years helped me. You sit on the

bench and you get a coach’s perspective on the game. I did a lot of

watching, and I learned how to properly block a ball or see what the

other team is doing wrong.”

*

Armed with a sound supporting cast, Smiland delivered plenty of

timely kills for the Golden Knights this season. He received help

from outside hitter Andy Frazee, setter Shant Norhadian, middle

blocker Tim Dietrich and outside hitter Tim Smiland, Scott’s twin

brother.

The Smilands, Dietrich and Frazee combined for 994 kills, and

Norhadian had 913 assists.

Scott Smiland recorded 24 kills in a nonleague match against

Temple City on March 11 and again in a Mission League match May 9

against North Hollywood Harvard- Westlake.

“For a long time, St. Francis had a good team,” said Smiland, who

was named to the All-Area’s first team last season. “We led up to

something big because the team had so many good ingredients.”

It was clockwork to find Frazee or the Smilands near the net,

prepared to deliver a booming kill.

Smiland put aside the fear factor of suffering another injury and

regrouped.

“At first, it was in the back of my mind about getting hurt

again,” said Smiland, who was a four-time All-Area first-team member

in football.

“But then I figured that I’ve been hurt so much that this year I

wouldn’t get hurt. I focused on getting a nice set and hitting the

ball hard.”

2003 BURBANK LEADER ALL-AREA BOYS’ VOLLEYBALL TEAM

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

SCOTT SMILAND * ST. FRANCIS

SENIOR * OUTSIDE HITTER

* Named first-team All-Mission League in 2003 for Golden Knights.

* Became first St. Francis athlete in seven years to be named to

Mission League’s first team.

* Had team-best 302 kills and 49 digs.

* Produced 24 kills in matches against Temple City and North

Hollywood Harvard-Westlake.

* Missed most of sophomore and junior seasons after snowboarding

and football injuries.

* Finished injury-riddled career with 555 kills and 187 digs.

* Was also Golden Knights’ kicker for football team for four

seasons, earning News-Press All-Area first-team honors each season.

* Had area-best seven field goals his senior season in football.

ALL-AREA SECOND TEAM

* Ian Breckenridge-Jackson

Providence * Middle Blocker * Senior

Earned All-CIF Division V third-team honors.

* Tim Dietrich

St. Francis * Middle Blocker * Junior

Recorded 166 kills and 100 blocks.

* Jordan Nomura

Flintridge Prep * Outside Hitter * Senior

Named to All-Santa Fe League’s first team.

* Shant Norhadian

St. Francis * Setter * Senior

Had 913 assists, second best in area.

* Jeff O’Neill

Crescenta Valley * Middle Blocker * Junior

All-league first-team selection had 254 kills.

* Aaron Pita

Crescenta Valley * Opposite Hitter * Senior

Named to All-Pacific League’s second team.


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