A little vacation and a lot of successful sports ventures highlighted summer break for three top metro-area athletes.
Helping Prior Lake to a runner-up finish at the Class 3A volleyball state tournament was just the beginning of some memorable months on the court for CC McGraw.
She played libero for a Minnesota Select 18-1 club team that won the USA Volleyball national championship. Her AAU Junior Olympic team placed second at nationals. McGraw, who has committed to the Gophers, earned all-tournament honors both times.
Just a junior this fall, McGraw will join three seniors as captains, “making sure everyone is keeping focused, accountable and ready to work,” McGraw said.
Practicing volleyball is more a labor of love than work for McGraw.
“I’ll go on walks with my family, and I’ll have a volleyball in my hands,” she said. “I’ll be setting the ball to myself and my family will say, ‘Really? Do you ever stop?’ ”
Yes, she did get away this summer. Trips to the lake with friends and Yellowstone National Park gave McGraw opportunities to recharge.
To improve her game, McGraw trained for a week at a Gophers volleyball camp. An attendee since she was an eighth-grader, McGraw said the feeling is different now that she committed to the program.
“I just feel more comfortable, and it’s been fun getting to know future teammates,” she said.
As a youngster, Brad Davison sought to make his older sisters’ summer club basketball games a showcase for his budding talent.
“Every halftime or timeout I’d run out onto the court wherever the most college coaches were sitting and shoot in front of all of them,” the Maple Grove senior said. “They got to know me over the years, so that was pretty cool.”
The 6-3 Davison, a member of the Star Tribune all-metro first team, saw his stock rise this summer playing point guard for the Howard Pulley 17-Under team in national tournaments in South Carolina, Wisconsin and Nevada. His skills attracted offers from more than 20 programs. In July, Davison chose Wisconsin.
“It was a really cool experience to play against top competition,” he said.
In the era of specialized athletes, Davison also is the quarterback of the Crimson football team, a program on the verge of a Prep Bowl championship.
So he split time this summer between sneakers and snaps, sharpening his skills as leader of both offenses. Then there was modeling the new football uniforms, getting away for some family cabin time near International Falls and planning team bonding activities during captains’ practices.
“It’s been a great summer, and I’m really excited about football and basketball,” Davison said.
Defending her Class 2A 800-meter state title marked the beginning of Ruby Stauber’s big summer on the track. The recent Wayzata graduate hoped to peak during national summer events and ran her plan to perfection.
Stauber, committed to Louisiana State, posted a personal-best 800 time of 2 minutes, 3.43 seconds at the USATF Junior National Outdoor Championships in June to finish third and break her own state record.
The Minnesota State High School League lists “all time” bests on its website. But those marks must be set during the season. Stauber’s mark is recognized in a widely respected list kept by two local coaches that includes records set at competitions outside Minnesota or during the summer months beyond an athlete’s graduation.
The seeds of Stauber’s fast finish were planted about a week earlier at the Brooks PR Invitational in Washington. Her hopes for a fast field didn’t materialize.
“Talking to the girls after the race, everyone was kind of disappointed because we were all expecting someone to take it out and lead and nobody really did that,” Stauber said.
The vibe changed at nationals, where the 800 competitors from Washington were on a mission.
“Everyone was itching to get a PR, and they weren’t messing around,” Stauber said. “There were some college runners in it, too, and they took it out pretty hard. It was really fun to be around really competitive people.”