Still Carey-ing on

September 30, 1999

* No matter the level - Class 1A high school or NCAA Division I - Smithsburg's Carey Brennan still has fun playing volleyball.

Carey BrennanBy DAN SPEARS / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

As she talks on the phone, Carey Brennan sounds like a wide-eyed freshman.

The first-year volleyball player for the University of Maryland says everything is so much bigger now, so much different. The players jump a little higher, the crowds are a little bit bigger, the practices last a little bit longer.

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But the size of the court at Ritchie Coliseum measures the same as the one at Smithsburg High School, and that means a whole lot of new people will get to see just what the same old Carey Brennan can do.


"I thought I'd be more amazed, but I don't have time for that. I thought I'd be more nervous," Brennan said last Friday before the Terps' ACC opener against N.C. State. "I don't have a reason, other than I'm a freshman and I'm playing outside for Maryland."

It's a simply understated response, one that matched Brennan's play on her way to a Class 1A state title and Herald-Mail Player of the Year honors in 1998. The 5-foot, 9-inch hitter would be laughing in between points, then crank up a kill to the 10-foot line when the whistle blew.

"I still have fun, it's just not like high school fun," she said with her trademark laugh. "It's different. I know I can't goof off like in high school. That's just not possible here."

But it is possible for her to make an immediate impact. One of three freshmen on a very young Maryland squad, Brennan was given the opportunity to make an impact similar to that kill to the 10-foot line.

She succeeded.

"She's had some great games, and she's struggled a little. But that's what I've expected out of her," said Maryland head coach Janice Kruger said. "She's so eager to learn. Show her something once or twice, and she's got it."

Brennan has even become a little amazed at herself. The former multisport star for the Leopards is now a one-season show in College Park. And that means catching up on all that volleyball stuff she pushed to the side while excelling at basketball and track at Smithsburg.

"I didn't know they could critique me so much," Brennan said before getting a little more serious. "Everyone else is so much more experienced. They have so many more repetitions at everything. I've gone from the role model to the underdog every day out there."

But even though Brennan's in a new role, she's still the same person.

"One day in practice, I asked her a question," Kruger said. "She thought it was a trick question, but I told her I was serious. She said, 'Janice, you know I don't know that.'

"She is just so open and has so few bad habits. Everything we teach her and show her is like putting a stamp or imprint on her ... We've taught her something and you see it. That's a neat situation as a coach."

It's also neat to see as a player. And just the slightest bit frustrating.

"I'm so open-minded because I haven't been taught all of this," Brennan said. "I see something new, it's like, 'OK, I'll adjust to that.' ... It's nice because I'm doing all this out of ability. But then I wish I had the experience to go with it - I'd be that much better.

"But now, I can get better. I think I'm capable of that kind of stuff."

She's just a freshman. She isn't acting like one anymore.

"This has been such an eye-opening experience for her," Kruger said. "She knew she could do well, but I don't think she realized what it would take.

"It's been like Volleyball 101 for her. And she's getting an A."

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