Owens invited to tournament in Honolulu

By Matt Hill

STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   MOUNTAIN CITY--A Johnson County volleyball player will be saying "Aloha" to the state of Hawaii this summer.
   Longhorn standout Elena Owens has been selected to compete in a national volleyball tournament June 22 through July 1 in Honolulu.
   The tournament features the best juniors from each state. Being selected is an honor that Owens feels is not only special for her, but also for Johnson County High School.
   "It shows a lot of people that we may be a small school, but we have a lot of potential coming out," Owens said. "It's a really big honor for me, especially after basketball when I broke my wrist and everything. Just to be nominated at least, but now to be honored to go is unbelievable, especially coming from a small county like Johnson County. But we've all got to shine sometime."
   Owens helped the Lady Longhorns to one of their most successful seasons in recent memory this past fall. She feels like Johnson County returning to respectability helped earn her the honor.
   "We all worked really hard last year to get back on the map, and to be considered as not an easy team. This year coming up, we're going to be an awesome team. We may be younger, but we've got a lot of potential coming out. But it has a lot to do with me getting my honor."
   Owens is especially grateful to a senior class that includes Watauga Conference Defensive Player-of-The-Year Rebecca Boney and All-Conference players Ashlee Billings and Nikki Davidson for helping her grow as a player.
   Owens feels like this wouldn't have happened without them.
   "Without those seniors I probably would not have been the athlete that I am in volleyball," Owens said. "I have worked with them forever, and without them I probably wouldn't have gotten it. I had a lot of support and everything coming from them."
   Owens also had plenty of help from Johnson County head coach Michele Cooke, who filled out the application.
   "My coach received a letter wanting her to fill out my stats from last year, and to let them know how I'm doing and everything," Owens said. "She filled out my stats and sent it back in. Two weeks later I got a letter saying that I had been accepted."
   Of course going to Hawaii is going to cost a lot of money, so Owens is now beginning the process of raising funds for the trip.
   "I am sending letters out and everything to my community to help me with sponsorship," Owens said. "Just anybody that can help me."
   Owens will not only get to compete against some of the best volleyball players in the Untied States, but she will also get to take the trip of a lifetime.
   "I will be in Hawaii 10 days," Owens said. "We've got a tournament set up, and then they have a day where we'll go sight-see and everything. It's going to be great."
   The trip to Hawaii will also give Owens a better chance of getting a college scholarship. Not only does Owens star on the court, but she also holds a 3.8 G.P.A.
   "They have their own personal scholarship that they give out, and they have a man that helps with that," Owens said. "He will send names out to all the colleges that I'm possibly interested in. It will help out a lot with recruitment."
   Owens feels like this experience will help her out tremendously once volleyball season starts next fall.
   "It will give me a lot more experience coming out of playing in Hawaii with some of the top recruitments from the states," she said.
   NOTE: If you would like to contribute to Elena's trip to Hawaii, you can make donations to the following banks:
   Johnson County Bank, Mountain City
   Elizabethton Federal, Mountain City
   Farmers State Bank, Mountain City
   You can also mail a donation to the following:
   Elena Owens Volleyball Fund
   C/O Brenda Owens
   776 Crestwood Drive
   Mountain City, TN 37683