In 2006 Sha’Dere McNeal convinced her close friend Erica Wilson to try out for the Fallbrook High School volleyball team.
On November 12 of this year, McNeal and Wilson both signed letters of intent to play college volleyball.
McNeal will play for the University of Texas while Wilson is headed to Arizona State University.
“They’re just going to continue to improve,” said Fallbrook High School volleyball coach Peter Peng.
Peng is quick to note that he took over the Warrior volleyball team this year and other coaches should also be given credit. “They’ve had two, three years with other people,” he said.
Peng added that the early signing period of letters of intent is special for a school as well as the athlete. “To have two signings unusual,” he said.
McNeal noted that Texas has a strong athletics program encompassing numerous sports and cited the Longhorns’ volleyball leadership as her reason for choosing the school.
“The coaching is really good,” she said.
McNeal was also considering Cal and UCLA. She plans to be a communications major at Texas.
Wilson’s second choice was the University of Kansas, but geography was a determining factor in her choice of the Greater Phoenix university in Tempe. “I want to be close to my family,” she said.
Playing in the PAC-10 conference was also appealing to Wilson. “I know it’s not going to be easy, but it will make me a better player,” she said.
Her desire to be a journalism or communications major was also a factor. “They have a good journalism school there,” Wilson said.
McNeal, an outside hitter, did not play volleyball prior to high school but was on Fallbrook’s freshman team as a ninth-grader and spent her final three seasons on the Warrior varsity.
As a freshman she also participated on the track team, competing in the long jump, high jump, 400-yard run and 4x100 relay. She focused on volleyball after her freshman year and did not play any other sports.
McNeal was born at Camp Pendleton. She attended New Venture Christian School during her elementary school years and was enrolled at Martin Luther King Junior High School in Oceanside prior to her four years at Fallbrook High School.
McNeal’s father entered the real estate profession after retiring from the Marine Corps. “My dad really pushed me to do everything,” she said.
Wilson was born in Ohio and had two stints at Mary Fay Pendleton Elementary School. She first played on a volleyball team while at Potter Junior High School.
“It was kind of like PE volleyball, but on a team,” she said. “I didn’t really learn anything.”
Wilson was a cheerleader during her freshman year at Fallbrook High School but did not play any sports. At McNeal’s urging she tried out for the volleyball team as a sophomore. “I just thought about playing again,” Wilson said.
Wilson made the junior varsity team, beginning the season as a middle blocker before being switched to the outside hitter position. She was a middle blocker on Fallbrook’s varsity as a junior and senior.
“I’ve come a long way,” Wilson said. “It’s a blessing to know I have a full-ride scholarship and I’ve only been playing for three years. I’m very proud, and I’m excited for college.”
McNeal and Wilson will both be playing club volleyball for Coast before beginning college.
The upcoming season will mark the fourth year of club play for McNeal, who started with Vintage and then played for Epic, and the third year for Wilson, whose first two years were with Epic.
McNeal and Wilson also had the honor to be the Fallbrook representatives of the all-tournament team for the Southern California Volleyball Invitational played October 17-18.
McNeal was selected as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player while Wilson was also selected to the all-tournament team.
“Good things happen to good people,” Peng said.
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