'All-American' recognition another sign of growth for Eldon volleyball's Beckmann

Michael Losch
Lake Sun Leader
Eldon junior Caroline Beckmann spikes the ball in a game against Bolivar on October 20 in Eldon.

Eldon junior Caroline Beckmann is still being recognized for her efforts on the volleyball court- five months after the season ended. 

In late March, the junior was named as a special mention in PrepVolleyball.com’s list of fall All-Americans, recognizing a total of 300 high school players across the nation. Beckmann was just one of 15 players from the state of Missouri named among the three categories- All-American, Honorable Mention and Special Mention- and just one of those players from the Show-Me State made the top category, which was reserved for the top 100. 

“That really puts everything into perspective for me. It makes me thankful for all my coaches- school and club coaches- and my school and club teams,” said Beckmann who was also previously recognized by the same website when it came out with its list of top sophomores in the country. “All the girls I’ve been able to work with and all the different people helping me out, it’s crazy to think about.” 

Read More:Eldon volleyball player named among the best sophomores in the country

One of them was Eldon coach Melinda Wrye-Washington who led her alma mater at Eldon the past two seasons and noted how deserving Beckmann was of the honor. 

“I am very proud of Caroline for her progress over the time I have been at Eldon. She worked hard and achieved highly in both the club and high school atmosphere,” the coach noted. “Her statistics from the past two high school seasons have been stellar and top of the charts in the state of Missouri. The PrepVolleyball All-American honor is a very high honor for any student-athlete.” 

Upon nomination, student-athletes are compared to others around the country statistically and are recognized for not only the impact they had on their teams, but their states as well. It seems Beckmann fits the bill. 

As a sophomore in 2019, Beckmann burst onto the scene as she led the Mustangs in multiple statistical categories on her way to her first All-State selection for Class 3 Eldon. Playing in a total of 70 sets, she was first in kills (352), hitting percentage (.342), kill percentage (43), blocks (46), digs (232) and third in service aces (31). 

It was more of the same in 2020. 

In 90 sets as a junior, Beckmann turned in 516 kills to lead the Mustangs while she also finished as the leader in hitting percentage (.359), kill percentage (48.2) and blocks (54). She was second on the team in digs with 263 and finished third in service aces with 49 for the year. Beckmann earned Class 3 All-State honors once again and she was also named the Most Valuable Player in the Tri-County Conference. 

Amongst the 15 Missourians to receive All-American recognition from PrepVolleyball.com, only four of them came from the Class 3 ranks as the remaining nine played in Class 4 or above. Hermann’s Grace Winkelmann and a pair from El Dorado Springs in Tevi Gurley and Reese Schaaf made the cut in Class 3 along with Beckmann. 

“It is awesome,” Beckmann said of representing Eldon. “I’m really proud to be from where I am, so, it is just cool being that girl from a small town and being able to do big things.” 

Speaking of big things, the Mustangs won their first district championship since 1998 last fall as the program made a run to sectionals as one of the top 16 Class 3 teams in the state, finishing the year 24-6-1. There was a point down the final stretch of the regular season, too, where the team won 11 straight games including a streak of 22 straight sets. 

Read More:Eldon volleyball shows resiliency to sweep Osage for district championship

Not bad, considering where the program was just two years prior. In 2018, the team finished 13-14-1 and improved to 17-14-1 in 2019 before the team’s run this past fall. Wrye-Washington said Beckmann’s contributions to the program’s success were noticeable in every match this past season and one of the most important contributions may have been her mentality.

“Caroline has improved her endurance and mental toughness greatly since I have been here. Choosing to battle back when faced with adversity on the court and off, Caroline continues to develop her leadership skills and promotes accountability culture in the program,” the coach said of a junior who was also named to the Academic All-State team the past two seasons. “Upon arrival at Eldon, I noticed that the team had a tendency to give up or play timid when challenged by other teams. Over the past year, Caroline has proven she can compete in challenging situations, and has bonded with the core of the team in promoting competitive championship culture.” 

Of course, the physical attributes speak for themselves as the coach pointed to Beckmann’s core strength and her improvement on the contact point of the volleyball, as well as her improvement in the serve and ability to be a primary passer on first contact. Those physical attributes are showing up in another sport, too, as Beckmann is finding success in track and field this spring. 

After earning four state medals as a freshman and unfortunately missing out on her sophomore season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Beckmann tied for the lead as one of the top point earners at the Maroon and Gold Relays in Eldon on Thursday. She finished first in the 200 meter dash, long jump and triple jump while helping the 4x400 relay team earn a first place finish as well. 

“She is highly successful in track and field, which will only help her prepare for next season in terms of strength and mobility. We have already talked about strengthening her arm over the summer and she will continue to develop contact point and shot selection,” Wrye-Washington noted. “The team is set to have camps, leagues, shootouts and team workouts throughout the summer to prepare for another successful season. I cannot wait to see what Caroline and the team can accomplish together next year.” 

Those pursuits in 2021 will come under new leadership as Wrye-Washington is currently exploring new opportunities after coaching in the collegiate ranks and her alma mater at Eldon the past two years. The school district recently announced that Kaley Lyons, the current Head Coach at El Dorado Springs who happened to coach two of the players on the All-American list, will take over as the new head coach at Eldon. 

Read More:Eldon announces new volleyball coach after Wrye-Washington steps down

“We are excited to have her, bring her in and show her what we can do,” Beckmann said. “As a team, I think we’re sad to see our old coach go- who wouldn’t be? But, we are excited for the next year.” 

As Beckmann prepares for her final high school season, one thing that will certainly stick with her is the feeling of winning that district championship- especially in the midst of all the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“That was one of our goals we’ve been working towards since Coach (Wrye-Washington) came. To be able to get it in only our second year and that second year with that group of girls, too, was super special,” she said. “We are really going to miss all the seniors next year.” 

To make sure the program has a shot at attaining that feeling once again, Beckmann pointed out to how important it was to work with the younger players and get them acclimated to the high school level. 

“We have a lot of younger girls coming up that are in club sports playing outside of volleyball season. Going to their games, helping them out and these underclassmen coming to practice- just making sure they know our new standards here at Eldon,” the junior explained. “You have to play at a certain level if you want to make it like we made it. Just have to hold that standard his for everyone and not have any exceptions.” 

Well, her old coach is fairly confident Beckmann will be successful in that endeavor. 

“It has been an honor to work with Caroline over the past two years, and I am proud of her determination and persistence in training,” Wrye-Washington stated. “She has been tough mentally and physically and has performed at a very high level while working working with her awesome teammates to put Eldon back on the volleyball map.” 

Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at mlosch@lakesunonline.com or 573-346-2132