Faith Waterfield is a testament to the fact that there’s no power like the power of positivity.
Waterfield, a 2021 Centralia High School graduate, was the emotional and vocal spark plug the Tigers’ volleyball team needed this past season.
Just two years after going winless, the Tigers ambushed the 2A Evergreen Conference in 2021, rampaging to a 9-1 overall record to claim the league title and the district’s No. 1 seed for possibly the first time in school history. Coach Marti Smith poured through past records and couldn’t find another time it had happened.
A big reason for the Tigers’ success was Waterfield’s intense passion and positivity on the court, as she was always the one to rally the team back when the momentum began to shift. It’s also a reason why Waterfield has a roster spot on the Centralia College volleyball team.
Trailblazers coach Susan Gordon reached out to Smith saying she was holding tryout sessions for high schoolers in order to fill a few more spots on her roster. Smith recommended Waterfield, who was still looking for a landing spot.
“I’ve been thinking about playing college volleyball since I started,” Waterfield said.
So in July, Waterfield headed to the college’s gymnasium and completed a workout session with one other girl. Afterward, Gordon called Waterfield into her office and let her know she’d earned a spot on the team. Before she knew it, she was signing papers and hearing what to expect in the coming months.
Gordon told Waterfield she doesn’t look just for athleticism in her volleyball players. She looks for players who inspire their teammates and keep everyone positive. That is exactly what Waterfield can provide.
“She said when she reached out to all my other high school coaches that they said I’m always somebody on the court who likes to bring positiveness to the team, even if we’re down 10 points,” Waterfield said. “I’m always there to cheer others up. She said that’s something she looks for on the team. I was pretty shocked my coaches were thinking of me like that. It’s nice to hear.”
Smith was one of those coaches who gave Waterfield a glowing recommendation. A former college volleyball player herself, Smith knew Waterfield had what it takes to succeed at the collegiate level.
“Faith is the type of player every coach would want to have on their team,” Smith said. “She brings consistent energy on and off the court, puts her teammates first, under no circumstances ever gives up and always believes in her team.”
An eventual three-year starter for the Tigers, Waterfield began playing volleyball in middle school when she was 12 years old.
She also played fastpitch freshman and sophomore years, basketball her freshman season and did cheer sophomore through senior year. But fastpitch and basketball weren’t her type of gigs. Plus, she wanted to focus solely on volleyball.
“I really love the sport,” Waterfield said. “It’s an exciting thrill. The best part of the game is all the memories you get to make with your teammates.
“It’s not like basketball or football where you have a certain amount of time to play. You only have these certain points and it goes by super fast. You could be up by 15 and then the next moment you’re tied. So you’ve got to play it play-by-play.”
Now she’ll get a chance to bring her skills to the next level. The Trailblazers’ first practice of the 2020-21 season was Friday, Aug. 13. Joining her on the team is friend and former Tigers’ teammate Haley Brann. The duo hope to help the Blazers rebound from a 1-10 season last year.
After Centralia College, Waterfield hopes to continue her volleyball career and academic studies at a university. She’s going to take this as far as she can go.
“I’m excited to continue volleyball at a higher level,” Waterfield said. “Excited to meet my new teammates and experience the high level of collegiate sports.”
And she knows she couldn’t have done it without her high school coach and mentor.
“A big thank you to Marti. She was probably the biggest inspiration to lead me into college volleyball. She always talked about how she set for her college team and she always pushed us to work our hardest. She’s a coach to look up to and I thank her for that.”