Skabelund ‘jumps’ into NIAA’s spotlight

Whitney Skabelund prepares to serve the ball during a volleyball match.

Whitney Skabelund prepares to serve the ball during a volleyball match.

There’s no question that Whitney Skabelund loves to jump.

Whether it’s spiking volleyballs over the net, soaring into pits or barely skimming hurdles, the Fallon senior is turning in a strong career with the Greenwave since moving to Fallon before her sophomore year. But what Skabelund has been able to accomplish in Greenwave athletics pales in comparison to the classroom where she’s excelled in the Jump Start college program.

“Many talented student-athletes possess mental toughness and a strong work ethic, but Whit has these two characteristics in abundance, which makes her not only a great athlete, but also a great student,” said Fallon volleyball coach Patty Daum.

Skabelund, an all-league outside hitter for Daum’s squad and a two-time state champion, was named a Top 10 student-athlete by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association. The honor goes to the top 20 student-athletes in the Silver State (10 each in the north and south) who demonstrated excellence both on the field and in the classroom. Skabelund and her fellow student-athletes will be recognized at the awards banquet in Reno next month.

“I’m super honored that they would think of me of all people because I’m a two-sport athlete,” a humbled Skabelund said. “I’ve got great coaches and great teammates.”

Since moving from New Mexico to Fallon, Skabelund has soared for the Greenwave, but it’s her determination and dedication to the academic realm that has the senior on a course to greatness. Skabelund enrolled in Western Nevada College’s Jump Start program two years ago and before she graduates high school, she will have an associate degree in science. In addition to her high-school curriculum, Skabelund took 15-credit semesters and will be ahead of most of her freshman class at Utah State this fall.

“It’s nice to see the first two years are already done,” said Skabelund, who finished her high school courses last fall. “It’s taught me time management. It’s been hard and I had to take some homework on bus rides — and when people are having fun, I’m writing a paper on my phone. It’s taught me discipline and I appreciate that.”

Enrolling in Jump Start almost didn’t happen. After her family gathered information from a Jump Start student who graduated last year, they determined it was the best opportunity for Skabelund.

“It was really last-minute to join Jump Start,” she said.

The semester was tough, as expected, but Skabelund adjusted and is thankful for the experience.

“It wasn’t necessarily the material that was hard. It’s a lot more put on to you,” Skabelund said of the increased coursework. “It was a different experience, doing homework on bus rides and in the gym before practice. It taught me to concentrate. I kind of got used to it. You make it through, die in finals week and then you’re OK.”

Sports, though, provided a necessary break from the academic grind.

“I think sports is a big help that helped me get through school, especially in that first semester,” Skabelund said. “You walk into that gym and know for the next two-and-a-half hours that you didn’t have to worry about school. It helped keep me sane.”

Skabelund is in her final season with the track and field team and is eying to repeat as the state champ in the long and triple jumps. When she arrived on the runway as a sophomore, Fallon girls track coach Paul Orong was in for a treat. Orong has seen his senior jumper flourish as she’s on her way to end her Greenwave career in style.

“She’s one of the most impressive athletes I’ve ever had,” Orong said. “She’s one of the most impressive young people I’ve been around, and I’ve been around some great ones. She’s so driven.”

Jumping is just in her DNA.


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