'How to work with other people': Three-sport athlete shares her success story and benefits of team sports

·4 min read

Sep. 19—DICKINSON — Ava Jahner walked into her first practice at a very young age, within a week she was among the teams best athletes. By 8 years old, Jahner had moved beyond being good at one sport and was a stand-out in three vastly different athletic styles.

To say the Trinity junior was a naturally born athlete would be an understatement. Today she is an All-WDA softball selection, an All-Region middle hitter in volleyball and an immensely poised scorer on the basketball court.

Jahner grew up in a family of skilled athletes and is touted by her coaches and fellow teammates as a contagious personality full of team spirit and determination — a dangerous force for the Titans.

As a child, Jahner was inspired by her two older sisters who both played softball and volleyball. She learned a lot from them and always watched their games from the bleachers. In her youth, Jahner was a 12u softball player and made the USA All American team for North Dakota. She got to travel to Oklahoma to play on the field where the college world series took place this summer.

Jahner's father has been one of her biggest mentors. He coached her in elementary basketball and was her league softball coach when she was young.

"I could be super honest with him and we got into a lot of arguments," Jahner said. "But I could be open with him and he pushed me more because I was his daughter. That benefited me a lot."

Today, Jahner is a Trinity Titans middle hitter, a basketball guard and a pitcher for the Dickinson Trinity softball co-op. In softball, she also plays first base and outfield. Right now, her biggest focus is volleyball, but she practices all three sports year-round.

In just two region games this season, Jahner has recorded 55 kills, 51 digs, 20 aces and has a hitting percentage of .217. Last year she led the team in kills with 352. At the conclusion of the season she had put up 67 blocks, 52 aces and 289 digs. She also made the All-Tournament team for state in volleyball.

"We love having Ava a part of our program," Breanna Sisson, Titan head volleyball coach, said. "Having her in practice, she is always asking questions and giving advice to other girls. She takes her role on the volleyball team very seriously. Last year we moved her around to some different positions and she took that with ease. She was willing to step up and do what was best for the team."

Jahner has also played as a setter and a right side, but she enjoys being a middle hitter best as it's a more diverse position providing her a plethora of offensive and defensive options. She says her grandparents have been her biggest supporters throughout her athletic career. They show up to nearly every game and if they can't, they send a text to "play hard and have fun."

Winning the region championship last year is Jahner's favorite volleyball memory to date. She says the other teams in the region had a lot of doubt in Trinity because they'd lost so many seniors that year.

"It was good to win and prove ourselves to everyone," Jahner said. "Volleyball has taught me many things, but I think the most important one is how to work with other people. It's such a team sport that if you don't have 100% trust in your teammates, you can't be a successful player."

As a non-stop athlete, Jahner developed tendonitis in her right arm that she's had to battle through during games. Pitching became especially difficult, but she never gave up her passion and love of the game. She pushed through the pain and built up strength through physical therapy. This year, she is doing much better and is ready to conquer on the court and diamond.

One of Jahner's goals is to improve her mental game and focus in softball and volleyball.

"In a lot of stressful situations, I can normally keep my emotions under control, but I think it's something I can always work on," Jahner said. "In those pressured situations. I want to come out on top."

Although Jahner has not decided her future route with college, she says she is considering continuing her athletic career after high school. Her dream is to win another state championship and play for a D1 school in Oklahoma.