She’s always Sunny, and a darn good volleyball player

Shawn Long
Staff Writer

by Shawn long
staff writer
      Former four-year volleyball Lady Wildcat Sunny Winker continues to make strides at her new home.
    Winker has been at Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville for three years and the 2015 WHS graduate is continuing to impress her coaches.
    “As a true freshman, she started on the outside and only played three rotations, but started to play all the way around towards the end of the season,” said Veronica Cribbs, SIUE club volleyball coach.
    “As a sophomore, she solidified her position on the outside by the amount of work ethic she put into it, leading us in services, aces and kills when we played in the SIUC tournament.”
    “Last season, she put all the pieces of her game together and had an outstanding season, leading in kills and had 109 kills in the National Tournament,” the SIUE coach added.
    The Nationals Tournament with over 120 teams was held in St. Louis, MO.
    “We went to Nationals. We did fairly decent against other teams. We’re going to try to go this next year and that is in Colorado so we’re definitely trying to stay up with all the bigger schools and the competition level just keeps going up as we go, ” Winker said,
    She recently was named Most Valuable Player of her club team and was also  nominated for female athlete of the year.
    “It was a huge honor,” said Winker. “I didn’t even know we had awards and going there and our teams had individual awards too so I was definitely taken back because there are a lot of clubs so that was definitely an honor to me to be awarded anything, let alone be nominated for that.”
    She was one of three freshman to even make the team her first year.    Now, she is leading the charge and is ready for her senior year.
    “She has a lot of expectations coming up in her senior year but she will meet every one as she has done in her previous three years here,” said coach Cribbs. “She is the best role model for the program and we  look forward to what she has to bring us this year.”
    Winker will be co-captain of her team in the upcoming season as well as vice president of the Woman’s Club Volleyball Organization.
    “Another girl who was president last year talked to me about becoming an officer, asking me if I would be interested and I said I would do it, already being highly involved in it,” Winker added.
    “I have more say in which tournaments we’re going to choose, if it is good idea to stay, how the money will be distributed between the two teams, with one going one way and the other going the other way so that is pretty much the main role I have, not super complicated.”
    She’s come a long way in a sport that wasn’t her first pick.
    “I was always big into softball. I played it since I was six. But once I actually ended up finding volleyball, that was my next big thing. I played club, I played all throughout middle school, and then I started playing club throughout my high school years,” commented Winker.
    Winker loved having a chance to play club long before her college years because she never knew who she was going to run into years later.
    “Funny enough, one of the girls on my club team from high school, she went to Mizzou and now we play each other on college club so it’s cool to have those connections when you don’t get to start volleyball in school until sixth grade.”
    Winker was a three- sport athlete in high school and always found it hard to keep up with her studies so she chose the club setting for one big reason, school and also as a chance to make new lasting friendships.
    “Obviously, school is my number one priority. I started with a chemistry major and then picked up a  couple minors once I started to get used to the whole college thing. I do spend a lot of time with all that and I am supposed to graduate next year on time with my major and two minors so that is best-case scenario,” said Winker.
    “I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to keep playing volleyball and then I found club so it was really nice to continue playing. I loved it and could not imagine college life without it.”
    Although education is her number one priority, Sunny still likes to be social and club helps her with just that.
    “I do like to get away from all the school work and spend at least two to four hours a day when I am not doing school work to just hang out with friends from club and not let school consume me,” Winker added.
    Although skill is big, it doesn’t happen over night. Most importantly she wants young volleyball players to remember that it helps to have the right attitude,
    “Stick to the basics, always and always cheer on your teammates because a good attitude on the court can win or lose the game for you.”