Close friends compete from a distance

Published 10:41 pm Friday, July 20, 2018

Best friends often compete together, but when their lives take divergent paths, they can wind up competing against each other, as well.

Such is the case for Caylin Harris and Brooks Gillerlain, close friends who still get to see each other on the court — from opposite sides of the net.

Harris and Gillerlain were volleyball standouts at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy. They played side by side, winning multiple state titles. But when it came time for college, they went their separate ways.

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Gillerlain went to Randolph College, while Harris went to Shenandoah University. Both schools are a part of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, and both student-athletes are soon heading into their senior seasons.

Harris’ team has won two of the three meetings against Gillerlain’s team, with Gillerlain’s team taking the most recent matchup from last year. Of course, they keep in touch often, but when the two get a chance to play against each other, they always see it as a fun opportunity.

“We’ve loved playing against each other, especially how we know how each other thinks on the court because of how we were trained at NSA,” Harris said. “It’s also nice being in the same conference because we can discuss other teams and sometimes compare strategies. I’ve loved still being close, even though we are far away.”

“It is honestly one of my favorite games I look forward to,” Gillerlain said. “It’s funny because since we have played together for so long, we know some of each other’s tricks. So, she reads me really well — where I am going to set and when I’m going to attack. It always feels good to dig or pick up her swings.”

Both believe that their paths have been similar, so it’s easy to understand what the other is going through.

Harris will be entering her senior season with hopes of helping Shenandoah reach the ODAC tournament, which hasn’t been done since her first season. She is also hoping to reach 300 kills, because the most she has had in a season so far is 237. Harris is also a team captain, and it will be her second season in a row helping lead the team.

Gillerlain, like Harris, has also been a team captain. She has had a leadership role dating back to her sophomore season. Last year, Randolph dealt with an abundance of injuries, and Gillerlain is hoping the team can stay healthy this year. She finished fifth in the ODAC in assists last season.

The college volleyball season gets under way in late August.