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This has been a busier summer than Hailey Anderson is used to. She was invited to the Montana-Wyoming All-Star Basketball Series, where she was one of just eight girls to play in, then she traveled to Casper to start preparations for this weekend’s Wyoming Coaches Foundation All-Star Volleyball Game. That doesn’t sound like a lot but throw in her college decision and the workouts that come with playing volleyball at the next level and it necessitates a breather.

And yet, the Southeast graduate has taken the increased workload in stride.

“It’s been crazy fun,” Anderson laughed. “I’ve gotten to meet a whole bunch of new girls and it’s been just like — it’s overwhelming almost to play with a bunch of all-stars. Playing in ol’ Yoder you’re used to playing a slower game but you get used to it fast.

“It’s just making me more excited to play on this team because there are three girls on this team that are going to play with me up in Casper next year on the volleyball team and it’s been fun getting to know them.”

Anderson was referring to Star Valley graduate Olivia Muir, Mountain View graduate Ailee Bugas and Laramie graduate Ashlyn Titensor. (And don’t mention that Casper College’s mascot is the Thunderbirds because Anderson is afraid of birds — or anything with wings.)

The former Cyclone almost didn’t join the T-Birds, however, after looking at numerous schools. She went on multiple visits and enjoyed all of them, but it was ultimately her desire to stay within a reasonable distance from home that made her the most comfortable.

“When push comes to shove I felt like this was the better choice for me because it’s close to home but not too close to home,” she said. “I can drive back and see the family, they can make me a dinner if I need it.”

She even almost opted for a larger workload in college than the one she’s experiencing for a limited time this summer. Her multi-sport background at Southeast made her comfortable with the thought of trying it in college — after all, she showed the ability by making the Montana-Wyoming All-Star series and this all-star volleyball match. But even that would be too much for her, considering her pre-med major would consume a bulk of her schedule and concentration as well.

So Anderson needed to make a decision on which sport she wanted to commit to.

“My mom played volleyball, it’s a family thing, and I think I enjoy volleyball just a little bit more,” she answered. “But it was really hard to decide which one I’d play.”

It wasn’t until after learning about her future teammates’ decision that she knew she wouldn’t be alone as an in-state freshman playing volleyball for the T-Birds. And getting to spend time with Muir, Bugas and Titensor has been massively important to Anderson. Thunder Basin graduate Madison Miller and Anderson only met while practicing for the Montana-Wyoming series and they’re going to spend next weekend together.

“These are friendships I’m going to have for a while and I’m super thankful for it,” she said. “The opportunity to play in this game is such an honor and I’m super excited to see where things go after this and how all of the other girls do.”

Funny how teammates for four days can create long-term friendships.

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Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @BradyOltmans

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High School Sports Reporter

Brady Oltmans reports on high school and local sports. He joined the Star-Tribune in July 2016 after covering prep sports and college soccer in Nebraska. He also contributes to University of Wyoming sports coverage. He and his dog live in Casper.

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