The complete list of VolleyballMag.com 2017 high school All-Americans is at the end of this story.
A superstar athlete can have all the physical skill in the world, but what usually puts that person over the top in the world-class department has nothing to do with how hard he or she can hit a volleyball, the deft touch they put on a pinpoint set or the uncanny ability they have for digging up the craziest shots.
More times than not, it’s what’s going on upstairs and what’s beating in their chest that separates the cream from the crop.
Meet Joel Schneidmiller, a 6-foot-6 standout outside hitter from Saratoga (Calif.) High School, who is the 2017 VolleyballMag.com boys high-school player of the year.
“We were a .500 team until he came in here as a freshman,” Saratoga coach Jason Cardoso said. “Then we were an .800 team and won back-to-back-to-back CCS titles and two Norcal titles. He’s a winning volleyball player. He’s a really humble guy who is down to earth. There is no ego with him. His game is about the whole team. He likes to help people on the court. He’s one of the most humble players I’ve seen, coached against or played with.”
Case in point was the team’s loss to Pacific Collegiate School in the CIF Central Coast Section Division II title match. Saratoga took it on the chin in five after winning the first set. Schneidmiller put down 37 kills in the match.
Less than two weeks later, the two teams met up again in the NorCal Division II title match and it was Saratoga coming out on top in four sets.
“Joel had a few less kills (33) in the NorCal match but more digs,” Cardoso pointed out. “He went to his defense and that helped us out.”
For Schneidmiller, who will play at UC Irvine this coming season, all this success has come in a relatively short timeframe. He got his start playing on the beach. His dad, Mark, played beach competitively and the two enjoyed playing on Pismo Beach and Santa Cruz Beach.
He started playing indoors at age 12 where he caught on with the Bay to Bay Volleyball Club where he played for six years.
“Indoor is less pressure compared to beach because you have five more guys on the court,” said Schneidmiller. “You don’t have to do everything like you do on the beach. And you can jump higher than you can on the beach.”
Schneidmiller said it took a little time to make the transition.
“It was a lot of work,” he said. “When I first started playing indoor I got confused with rotations. I thought you just passed and hit it. I was really bad the first few years. When I was 12 I was on the 14s and when I was 13 I was playing with 15s. When I started playing with my age group is when I started making progress.”
Bay to Bay VBC club director and 18-1s coach Matt Houlihan said the fact Schneidmiller was playing against older players early in his indoor career has paid major dividends for him. Schneidmiller helped his Bay to Bay team tie for fifth at USA Volleyball junior nationals in Columbus, Ohio, last month in 18 Open.
“He always was the younger kid playing up,” he said. “He always was trying to be the more mature player and always was trying to be the better player against the guys above him even when he still was the little guy playing. He took that experience and ran with it. He knows what it takes to battle against the highest competition and today is very talented and very hard working. He puts in the time with the things he’s good at and with the things that will help evolve his game even more.”
Houlihan also saw him step up as a leader.
“He came up to play 18s last year and did a great job in that environment and then was with the junior national team this year and had to take on a much bigger leadership role. He’s always been able to execute volleyball plays. This year he took on a leadership role and was the guy people looked to when it came to crunch time. He did a great job leading by example. He connected not just with his team, but with younger players at the club who looked up to him. Him reaching out to those younger kids in the club is a great sign of his leadership role.”
Now, Schneidmiller has advanced to the point he will play in a program that has multiple NCAA titles to its credit.
“It’s pretty surreal,” he said. “I never thought I would really like indoor volleyball. I always thought I was pretty good, but I never thought I would have the potential to be a Division I volleyball player. I’m excited to go down there and start playing with the best players around and against the best players around.”
Cardoso thinks the volleyball world has yet to see the best from Schneidmiller.
“I think he has most of his volleyball potential still left in the tank,” he said. “This is a kid who is easy to coach who wants to listen and learn. He’s all about learning the game. I coached him for five years since he was 13. It’s been fun to watch him grow and learn about the game.”
2017 VolleyballMag.com Boys High School All-Americans
Player of the Year: Joel Schneidmiller (Saratoga High School, Saratoga, Calif.)
Coach of the Year: Christine Giunta-Mayer (Glenbard West High School, Glen Ellyn, Ill.)
Team of the Year: Loyola High School (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Name Ht. Pos. Year School
Will Bantle 6-5 OH Sr. Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Sean Farmer 6-3 S Sr. Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Ill.)
Billy Fauntleroy 6-7 OH-MB Sr. New Trier (Winnetka, Ill.)
Mitch Haly 6-7 MB Sr. Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.)
Zac Norvid 6-1 Lib. Sr. Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Ill.)
Jake Meyer 6-4 MB Sr. Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.)
Adam Parks 6-4 S Sr. Oak Park (Calif.)
Cole Pender 6-5 OH Jr. Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, Calif.)
JP Reilly 6-4 OH-RS Sr. Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Charlie Siragusa 6-8 RS Sr. McQuaid Jesuit (Rochester, N.Y.)
Joel Schneidmiller 6-6 OH Sr. Saratoga (Calif.)
Ryan Wilcox 6-3 OH Jr. Punahou (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Name Ht. Pos. Year School
Chris Hall 6-2 S Sr. Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, Calif.)
Leo Henken 6-5 OH Sr. University (St. Louis, Mo.)
Alex Gettinger 6-4 OH Sr. Lafayette (St. Louis, Mo.)
Cole Johnson 6-7 OH Jr. Central York (York, Pa.)
Joe Kenzinger 6-6 MB Sr. Brother Rice (Chicago, Ill.)
Marc Moody 6-7 MB Sr. Lake Nona (Orlando, Fla.)
Spencer Olivier 6-5 OH Sr. Beckman (Irvine, Calif.)
Wailea Pukahi 6-3 OH Sr. La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.)
Brady Wedbush 6-6 RS Sr. Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Spencer Wickens 5-11 OH/L Sr. McQuaid Jesuit (Rochester, N.Y.)
Zevan Williams 6-4 MB/RS Sr. Clovis (Calif.)
Gage Worsley 6-2 OH/L Sr. Campolindo (Moraga, Calif.)