Following a banner freshman season in which she pulled up the second most digs in a season in school history, Seward County sophomore libero to be, Madison Winkelman, was recently selected as one of just ten players in the country to participate for USA Athletes International in a series of matches to be played on the island of Aruba earlier this month.

At first Winkelman was tentative to say the least about her trip out of the country with a team full of complete strangers. However, at the conclusion of the trip her feelings were just a little bit different as she said upon her return to the US that “The memories and friends made are something I wouldn't trade for anything.”
The trip started for Winkelman with a trip to Miami to meet up with her team before making the journey down to Aruba. She and her teammates arrived and had the days to explore the island before lacing up their shoes in the evening for the international matches. “The competition was mostly younger girls in high school but they were good for their age and didn't let our age or anything intimidate them” she said. “We played an older team with women 20-34 who were trying to get practice internationally for a big tournament with lots of local countries” she continued.
The team competed well, especially considering the circumstances and the fact that they got about one hour of practice together before they hit the court and the scoreboard started counting. Winkelman said that although she and her teammates and coaches came from all around the country and played at a number of different levels without knowing a thing about each other before they converged on Miami, that “it was crazy how all 11 of us just clicked on and off the court after never playing together or knowing each other. I made friends there that I'll probably have the rest of my life.”
Winkelman said that the Aruban hospitality was second to none, saying “the young teams welcomed us at the net by giving us shirts and little souvenirs. After each game we took group pictures with all the girls from the other teams and got to talk to them it was fun.” When asked if she would recommend the trip to another player with the chance to go, she said simply “it's an experience definitely worth every penny. I want everyone who gets the chance to go, to be able to go and have the experiences like I was fortunate enough to.”
Now, the Seward sophomore will turn her sights back to the green and white and her second season with the Lady Saints that will start unbelievably enough in just five weeks when the 2011 version of the Seward County Volleyball team opens up their preseason camp to get ready for the season and a run at the NJCAA National Tournament.