Boys Volleyball: Well-rounded Nate Royer has volleyball in his bloodNate Royer, of Lincoln-Way East, spikes the ball against Glenbrook North for the Title game at the Brother Rice Smack Attack Tournament, Saturday, April 21st, 2012 in Chicago, IL. l Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 22, 2012 8:29PM
Nate Royer was blessed with a lot of natural athletic ability, including a pretty impressive vertical jump. However, he wasn’t blessed with a lot of patience.
So the 6-1 senior from Lincoln-Way East decided not to follow in the footsteps his older brother Ryan, who played baseball during his athletic career. Instead, Nate Royer followed in the shoes of his older sister Amy, an NAIA All-American at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.
Watching the grass grow in right field or the dust kick up around second base just didn’t keep his interest.
“I like volleyball because it’s a fast-paced game,” Royer said. “There’s always something going on. I like how fast-paced it is. A team can always come back in a second. You always have to be on top of your game.”
To hear Royer tell the story, he really didn’t have a choice anyway.
“My parents both play volleyball, my older sister played volleyball,” he said. “I really had no choice. But I’m definitely glad I got into it. I absolutely love it.”
Royer was pulled up to the varsity midway through his freshman year and has been a fixture at outside hitter ever since. Through 32 matches this season, he leads the Griffins with 255 kills, is second with 141 digs, third with 18 aces, fifth in blocks with 30.6 and passes at a nifty 2.52.
Only libero Jake Tomaras has more digs than Royer and only his younger brother Austin Royer, the team’s sophomore setter, has more aces,
“Nate is one of the most versatile players I have ever personally coached or coached against,” Lincoln-Way East coach Kris Fiore said.
Royer has worked relentlessly on becoming a better all-around player to compensate for the one area he has no control over, his height.
“I’m not the tallest player around,” he said. “So passing and playing defense are very important. You have to be well-rounded, or other teams will take advantage of your weaknesses.”
Fiore compared his star to another south suburban player who enjoyed a stellar college career at Loyola University despite his lack of “ideal” size.
“Nate reminds me a lot of George Kamberos from Stagg a few seasons ago,” Fiore said. “Defensively, he makes plays most liberos would not, and he is a constant threat to attack from the back row. Offensively, he hits anywhere across the net.
“On top of all this, Nate is a tireless worker who comes to compete every day at practice and is the quiet leader of our team,” the coach added. “He lets his play do the talking for him.”
Royer may be quiet on the court, but he doesn’t hide his enthusiasm for having the opportunity to play with younger brother Austin.
“He’s going to be a very great player,” Nate Royer said. “It’s awesome that he’s playing up with us. He’s also a great brother. We hang out a lot together. We have the same group of friends. We’re friends as well as brothers.”
There is nothing that Nate Royer would like to share more with his brother than a chance to play in a state quarterfinal. Lincoln-Way East has not been to the state tournament since finishing fourth in 2007.
“That would be an awesome experience,” Royer said. “We got a lot of confidence (from beating Lincoln-Way North twice within a week). I think we’re a better team than a lot of people expected. We definitely can achieve our goals this year.”