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This time, waiting by the phone pays off

Amber Donovan will be heading to Westmont College.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Amber Donovan was a little nervous while waiting by the phone on that chilly January night.

OK … she was bouncing off the walls.



The Forest Lake Christian senior setter was expecting a call which would make her dream of playing college volleyball come true.




Westmont College head women’s volleyball coach Jim Smoot had flown up to see the 2001 Central Valley Christian League’s most valuable player play in a club tournament the week before.

He liked what he saw, but didn’t make a scholarship offer.

He told Donovan to expect a call with his decision the following Wednesday night.

The phone rang around 8 p.m. and, much to Donovan’s relief, it was Smoot.

“My heart would drop every time the phone would ring. And when he finally called, he didn’t say it right away. He just went on about what he had been doing that day. It made me even more nervous. I just wanted him to say it,” Donovan said. “It took him a couple of sentences before he finally made the offer.

“I don’t even remember what I was thinking about, but as soon as I got off the phone, me and my mom were jumping up and down and screaming.”

Donovan, who made it official when she signed a letter of intent last week, fell for the little college in the foothills above Santa Barbara at first sight.

“I think the atmosphere is what attracted me the most. Where it’s set is so beautiful. It’s up in the mountains, the people are so nice and I love the Christian atmosphere,” she said. “That’s the kind of place I’ve always had in my mind.”

Katie Boddorf and Ashley Pogue, who’ve played volleyball with Donovan since junior high, said Smoot and Co. hit the jackpot with the signing of Donovan.

“She was the key player every year, not only with her athletic skills, but with the way she leads,” Boddorf said. “She makes you want to be a better player and a better person.”

Pogue said Donovan’s sunny disposition paid dividends in both practice and in matches.

“She always has a smile on her face. She was always so positive out there. They’re getting a great person and a (born leader),” Pogue said.

Donovan, who set the school’s single season (524) and career (1,108) assist record this season, played a key role in an incredible Lady Falcon run both on and off the court.

She began her career on the varsity on an up note with a Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship.

Forest Lake made it back to the title game the next three years, but couldn’t get the magic back.

“When I was a freshman, I didn’t really realize the importance of it. But as I got older, I started to realize how much of a big deal winning the section really is. That made me appreciate it even more,” she said.

She was also a member of the team which won the CIF Scholastic State Championship three times in four years, made it to the Final Four of the NorCal State championships twice and won four consecutive CVCL titles.

“I’m so thrilled. I feel like all of the hard work over the years has paid off,” Donovan added.

Donovan File

Individual awards

2001 Central Valley Christian League most valuable player

1999, 2000, 2001 CVCL First Team

1998 CVCL Second Team

Team Records

2001 Assists in a season (524)

1999-2001 Assists in a career (1,108)


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