Boys Volleyball: WW South’s Thomas Jaeschke named the Sun-Times Player of the Year
Updated: May 30, 2012 8:37PM
On a warm and breezy Sunday afternoon one day before the Illinois High School Association boys state volleyball tournament began, Wheaton Warrenville South’s Thomas Jaeschke was out hitting balls.
Not the large, white Baden kind. The small, dimpled Titleist kind.
Until the 2011-2012 school year, Jaeschke split his time between playing golf and volleyball at WW South. The 5-handicapper still enjoys playing a round of golf whenever he gets the chance. As a youngster, he also played football, soccer and baseball.
“I didn’t even know volleyball existed until I got into high school,” he said.
Bad news for the rest of the state. Good news for the Tigers.
Jaeschke, a 6-7 senior outside hitter who will be headed to Loyola in the fall, has been named the 2012 Sun-Times Boys Volleyball Player of the Year. His play has been off the charts and is one of the reasons the Tigers completed a 35-0 regular season, losing only one game in the process.
“I really didn’t expect this at the beginning of the season,” Jaeschke said. “But since the first tournament when we went three games with Glenbrook North, the team has really come together. When things go bad, we don’t get rattled.”
Although most foes would point to Jaeschke as the reason the Tigers have rarely been threatened, he credits the smallest guy in the Tigers’ lineup.
“It’s really (libero Dan) Eastman,” Jaeschke said. “He’s always talking on the court, making sure we’re in the right spots. He has made it easy for us to come together. It’s really a unified team.”
But it’s hard to ignore Jaeschke’s contributions. The senior has amassed some staggering statistics through the regular season, including 292 kills, 87 aces, 56 solo blocks and 145 digs while putting balls away at a .402 clip.
“Thomas’ all-around game has improved more than anyone I have seen with his performances the last two years,” coach Bill Schreier said. “His ability to read the game and put himself consistently in the right position is uncanny. He has the first-ball contact skills of someone much smaller, which makes him the total package.”
Jaeschke, who was able to defer to players like 2011 player of the year Eric Luhrsen, Michal Stefanski and Matt Callaway last year, said it was just a matter of becoming comfortable with himself.
“I’ve grown more into my body,” he said. “I haven’t grown taller, I’m just more comfortable with my body. There wasn’t a lot of pressure on me last year. I had it pretty easy, and that’s when I started playing better.”
If there is any consolation for opponents, it’s that Jaeschke isn’t good at everything. His twin sister Jaime, a former cross-country runner, is a model.
Has Jaeschke ever thought of following in his twin’s footsteps?
“I wish,” he said. “I don’t think I could do that.”