Alopecia won’t set back this Fort Worth-area volleyball player who embraces identity

·4 min read

Lyndsay Baker shared a moment when a counselor came up to her two years ago and was concerned about one of her volleyball players at Keller Central High School.

“She came to me and wanted to talk about a player with cancer,” recalls Baker, who knew she was talking about Allison Montoya. “I just didn’t want to assume so I asked ‘which player has cancer?’”

“’You know...the bald one. The one with no hair,’” the counselor told Baker.

“You mean Allison? She’s doesn’t have cancer. She has alopecia. She’s good.”

Montoya, a junior, has had alopecia since she was two. Alopecia is defined as an autoimmune disorder that causes a person’s hair to come out. She said she believes she’s the first in her family to have it.

“I got really sick when I was around two,” Montoya said. “I took some medicine and got more sick. Then the alopecia started. I haven’t had many bad experiences. Some people aren’t knowledgeable on what it is and assume, but I’ve been in the same school district and feeder pattern all my life so people are use to it.”

Now the starting setter on the varsity volleyball team at Central, Montoya has learned to embrace her alopecia, her look and what she says is her identity.

“Everyone knows especially in this community. They know or don’t say anything, but you go to a different place and they ask what happen or what’s the deal,” she said. “Sometimes it’s repetitive, it just depends where you are and who’s around.”

Central volleyball player Allison Montoya, center, is in line during practice Sept. 29, 2021, in Keller. Montoya has alopecia, which caused all her hair to fall out.
Central volleyball player Allison Montoya, center, is in line during practice Sept. 29, 2021, in Keller. Montoya has alopecia, which caused all her hair to fall out.

Volleyball start

Montoya began playing volleyball six years ago and also plays club during the off-season.

While she didn’t have a difficult time entering school, Montoya did say club was a little more different.

“There were definitely more eyes on me when I started club, which can be a good and bad thing, but I feel like club has given me more opportunities because you’re seen by so more people,” said Montoya, who plays for Fort Worth Fire. “I think it’s an advantage sometimes.

“There are more eyes on you and it’s an attention grabber especially at tournaments. I’m already trying my best and giving 100 percent all the time, but now it’s kind of like you’re going out there and proving a point.”

Central volleyball player Allison Montoya listens to the coach along with her teammates during practice Sept. 29, 2021, in Keller.
Central volleyball player Allison Montoya listens to the coach along with her teammates during practice Sept. 29, 2021, in Keller.

High school ball

Montoya leads the team this season with 363 assists and has 136 digs and 24 aces.

“I love Allison. She’s a hard worker,” Baker said. “She’s a great teammates, great volleyball player and is a kid every coach wants in their program. She’s always doing the right thing.”

It’s Montoya’s first year on the varsity team after spending her first two years on junior varsity.

But Baker and Montoya had a conversation in the spring.

“I told her she has a spot, but I don’t know which team yet and she asked me what she could work on,” Baker said. “That day she hired a coach for private lessons, actually it was my high school coach. She would go several times a week and when she came out in the fall, she was different kid.”

One of her teammates, junior Danielle Sherman has known Montoya since they were in preschool.

Sherman said Montoya makes a difference on the court.

“Allison does a lot for the team,” Sherman said. “She’s very analytical and brainstorms a lot. She helps our team whenever we’re in tough situations.”

Central volleyball player Allison Montoya bumps the ball during practice Sept. 29, 2021, in Keller.
Central volleyball player Allison Montoya bumps the ball during practice Sept. 29, 2021, in Keller.
Keller Central volleyball player Allison Montoya has alopecia, but continues to excel as setter.
Keller Central volleyball player Allison Montoya has alopecia, but continues to excel as setter.

Inspiring others

Charlie Villanueva is the most notable professional athlete in Dallas-Fort Worth with alopecia.

He played for the Dallas Mavericks for two seasons.

Montoya said someone like him, playing at the highest level, inspires her.

“I see that and I think they’re like me, we have something in common. It’s inspiring to see others have alopecia and go on to do great things,” she said. “It helps to inspire more people and it’s helpful for me and my mindset.”

Montoya said she wants her story told to help educate people and to inspire others as well.

“I just want to educate people,” she said. “I also don’t want people to feel sorry. Don’t underestimate me. I’m perfectly healthy. It doesn’t have to set you back. It can be a positive way to get you farther than others.

“I really want to inspire others to do greater and better things.”

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