Freshman middle blocker Tori Blake (10) has helped lead Wisconsin to a 3-0 start to its exhibition season this spring. Blake joined the team in January after graduating from Midland High School in Michigan.[/media-credit]For many in their final year of high school, second semester is like a dream come true. It is a time when high schoolers across the country secure collegiate enrollment and pursue semester-long vacations filled with skipped classes, blown-off homework and senior prom.But freshman Tori Blake threw that all away without a second thought by graduating high school a semester early to join the Wisconsin volleyball team.“It’s been like a dream come true,” Blake said. “High school was great, but I was kind of over it to begin with … It was the best thing that had ever happened to me. So few people are able to do that. I was so happy that I was able to.”Instead of walking with the Midland High School Class of 2013 at graduation and gearing up for senior skip day, Blake has been playing and practicing as a full-fledged student-athlete with the UW volleyball team since January. Blake was named to the 2013 Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 list, along with future Badger Lauren Carlini and was a two-time all-conference and all-region selection in her home state of Michigan.Even as a 17-year-old heading into the semester, the 6-foot-3 middle blocker had no regrets about leaving high school early. She was thrilled to join her teammates and begin learning about the UW volleyball system.“Coming here early, you get ahead on classes, you get to be with the team,” Blake said. “That’s the biggest thing, being with the team, being with your family that you’re going to have for the next four years, getting to know the coaching staff, seeing how everything works. It’s worth it.”Head coach Kelly Sheffield said in his past experience, players who graduate early to play with their college teams have a difficult time adjusting to life away from home. However, he said Blake has been a different story.“This kid isn’t going through any of that stuff as far as I can tell,” Sheffield said. “This Disney World ride for her has been for four months.”Another important transition Blake has made was her shift from basketball to volleyball. Growing up in a basketball-crazed home, it was a shock to her parents when Blake decided during her sophomore year of high school that after eight years of basketball, she would be giving up the sport to pursue volleyball.Blake’s sophomore year was also the same year she said she started “taking [volleyball] seriously,” and the same year that Blake verbally committed to playing volleyball at Wisconsin.Blake began travelling two hours away by car to Grand Rapids, Mich., to train at the club level and improve her skills. While Blake’s fall season consisted of playing with the Midland High School Chemics, her springs turned into long car rides, weekends at tournaments and long days training, but she said her newfound love of volleyball made the time commitment irrelevant.Sheffield said she has been able to transition seamlessly into volleyball because of her athleticism. During her sophomore year, Blake took seventh in the state in Division I with a high jump of five feet, four inches. Sheffield said that Blake is a long way from honing her volleyball skills, but her willingness to work hard is an invaluable asset.“The competitiveness, the determination, the drive to get better and to be great is oozing out of every one of her pores,” Sheffield said. “She really, really wants to be good. I would put her competitive drive up there with probably anyone on this team right now. She’s going to be really, really good. It’s going to take some time.”Fellow middle blocker and junior Dominique Thompson said Blake has already vastly improved her attacks on offense as well as her on-court confidence.Thompson also said that all of the players have supported Blake from the start and have respected her for her consistent work ethic. Thompson said that throughout the first weeks of the semester, all of the players were texting Blake to help her find her way around campus.“We’ve all just kind of taken her under our wing as a responsibility to let her know where she needs to be,” Thompson said.Blake praised her teammates for the support they have given her. She said she expected to be looked down upon as a freshman, but has been fully accepted as part of the Wisconsin volleyball family.Even as a bona fide member of the UW volleyball clan, Blake said she is still trying to learn from the veterans of the team.“I’m kind of following in a sense,” Blake said. “I’m trying to find my spot on the team at the same time. … It’s great though because they push me. Coach pushes me. I don’t feel like anyone’s letting up the slack.”
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisALPENA, Mich. — An Alpena man was arraigned on Monday in connection to a drug overdose that occurred in April of 2018. 42-year-old James Donald Hayes faces one charge of delivery of a controlled substance causing death, a felony that can carry a sentence of up to life in prison. He was also charged with one count of tampering with evidence in a criminal case, a felony punishable by more than ten years.On April 13, 2018, Michigan State Police and EMS were called to Boone road in Alpena township where a woman was reported unconscious. Life-saving efforts were unsuccessful and 42-year–old April Brown was pronounced dead on the scene. Initial investigation suspected a drug overdose and this was confirmed following an autopsy.Because it is an ongoing investigation, the exact drug could not be confirmed, but Lt. Derrick Carroll of the Michigan State Police did say schedule one narcotics were involved.An arrest warrant went out for Hayes on Jan. 23 and he was arraigned on Monday at the 88th district court in Alpena. He’s currently being held at the Alpena County Jail on a $100,000 cash surety bond.AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThis Tags: michigan state policeContinue ReadingPrevious Viral outlet challenge on TikToc causing fire hazardsNext Local basketball team remembers Kobe Bryant
This would make Doc the first executive in American professional sports to a) trade for his son, b) give him a fat extension ($35.5 million over three years) and c) trade him.Not to disparage Austin, acquired in an eyebrow-raising trade in 2015, signed to that eyebrow-raising extension last summer. He has become a real player shooting a career-high 41 percent on 3-point attempts, perhaps one capable of averaging 15-20 points for a Knicks team that makes him a primary option to highlight his worth.As for Melo, likable teddy bear that he is, I’ve never been a fan.The stars of the 2003 draft, LeBron James who went No. 1 and Dwyane Wade who went No. 5 have each won three NBA titles. Melo, the celebrated No. 3 pick coming off Syracuse’s NCAA title, is an overstuffed turkey of a scorer with no inclination to share the ball and no ability to lead, whose teams have won a total of three playoff series in his 13 seasons.Jackson’s first act as Knicks president was to re-sign Melo to a five-year, $120 million deal to keep him from the Lakers, where Kobe Bryant, his surrogate big brother, recruited him personally. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error It’s not true that Doc Rivers would sacrifice his first-born son to help the Clippers.On the other hand, Doc’s third child, Austin, born after Jeremiah and Callie but before Spencer, is definitely available.Austin is the prize… if that’s the right word… in the package the Clippers have offered for Carmelo Anthony, making them the leader in the clubhouse to land the Knicks’ star… if that’s the right word. If a 24-year-old reserve isn’t much for an 11-time All-Star, Knicks president Phil Jackson might trade Melo for a ballboy, except for the rule that the team must take back $27 million worth for the high-priced Melo. Three years later with another Knicks season slipping away, taking down Jackson’s attempt to rebuild on the fly with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, Phil had seen all he wanted of Melo. Being Phil, he announced it, noting Anthony’s tendency to hold the ball – “and then everybody comes to a stop” – that was keeping the Knicks from running Jackson’s beloved triangle offense.Being Phil, he also told all to a confidante, Charley Rosen, once his assistant coach in the minor leagues. Rosen savaged Melo for FanRag.com, noting “his legs are going, going, almost gone,” concluding, “The only sure thing is that Carmelo Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York.”Of course, Charley used to savage Kobe when Phil was coaching the Lakers. Maybe it’s a coincidence.Rosen didn’t quote Phil, insisting that he hadn’t talked to him, even with insider details like the fact that Carmelo would only waive his no-trade to go to the Clippers or Cavaliers. Jackson and Rosen also shared the same optimism, or naivete, about what the Knicks might get. Rosen noted that Atlanta had shopped Paul Millsap and threw out Toronto as another possibility.Actually, only one team was interested – the Clippers–and only because they would be getting Melo for as close to free as NBA rules permit.The Knicks called the Cavaliers to offer Melo for Kevin Love.Imagine the sound of muffled laughter coming from the Cavs’ end of the line.The Knicks also called Boston, having heard that the Celtics want a star, hoping that perhaps they could even get one of the No. 1 picks in 2017 and 2018 that Boston got from the Nets.Imagine GM Danny Ainge asking, “No, who is this really?”The Knicks called the Clippers, whether to get Blake Griffin or not, that being the hottest rumor on internet sites like Inquisitr.com that specialize in gossip they pick up from other sites that do the same. In this case, there was no shortage of sites to crib from.Gentlemen’s Quarterly, which features blogs, however nonsensical, ran a piece under the headline: “Blake Griffin for Carmelo Anthony, the One Trade that Would Fix Two teams.”No, really. Then there was Fox.com, which asked, “Carmelo Anthony For Blake Griffin: Who Says No To A Trade?”I know! I know!The NBA office is who says no. A salary cap rule limits a team to one player with the exemption Griffin is on. The Knicks already have one, Rose.Negotiations established that the Clippers wouldn’t give up DeAndre Jordan, either … or Chris Paul … or even J.J. Redick. Since $27 million of players had to go, Austin and Jamal Crawford were nominated. Jackson reportedly wants cap space rather than Crawford, who will make $29 million over the next two seasons. They’re now seeking a third team that wants Jamal and can send an expiring contract to New York.This is the Knicks’ dysfunction in a nutshell. With clueless owner James Dolan taking over negotiations in 2011 with a winning team and two maximum slots for free agents, they moved half their roster for Melo (Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Ray Felton, Timofey Mozgov and a No. 1 to Denver; Eddy Curry, Anthony Randolph and Corey Brewer to Minnesota to create cap room).For that, the Knicks got three playoff appearances in six seasons and none since 2013.Skeptical of Anthony as I am, I’d say the Clippers would be getting the best possible Melo, on a structured team that isn’t All About Him. Between Doc and CP3, his close friend, Melo would move the ball or get an earful.And yes, after all Doc’s misses trying to get a small forward, they would have one who can make an open shot. Get ready to hear about all the stellar defense Melo is playing. Who knows, it could even be true.It’s a new day in Clipper Nation. If Melo’s not Kevin Durant … by a long shot … a star may come on the market that the Warriors don’t get!