With plenty of reason to panic and facing the possibility of seeing her high school volleyball career end, SSHS senior Lyndsey Anderson huddled with her teammates during a timeout. However, rather than hanging her head, Anderson simply smiled and gave her team an undeterred message, “We’ve got this.”
“I’ll never forget playing Game 5 in the semis against Gorman,” Spanish Springs volleyball coach Frank Sandomenico said. “I think we were down 9-4 and I called a timeout and she just came to the sideline with a smile on her face and said ‘Guys, we got this.’ We had lost games 3 and 4, Gabby Szachara had gotten hurt, and it just seemed like everything was going against us and she still had a smile. There are a lot of great moments, but that’s the one I’ll never forget.”
From there, the Cougars rallied back for a 17-15 victory to advance to the state final where they earned the first volleyball state crown in school history. In the two state tourney contests, Anderson handed out 73 assists combined, to help lead the Purple and Silver to the championship.
Shortly after the title run, Anderson was soon helping the SSHS girls basketball team to its second consecutive 20-win season and an appearance in the D-I North semifinals.
For those stellar achievements on the volleyball and basketball court, Anderson has been named the Sparks Tribune’s 2012-2013 Female Athlete of the Year. The award, which is chosen by the Tribune sports staff, goes to the top senior athlete from the three Sparks-area high schools: Reed, Spanish Springs and Sparks.
“Lyndsey is a very gifted athlete and an absolutely fierce competitor, mentally and physically,” Spanish Springs volleyball coach Frank Sandomenico said. “She has an unbelievable mix of being super competitive yet always being positive. I don’t know if there’s anyone who like’s to compete and win as much as she does. It’s hard to find that in someone, to always want to win but still remain positive. Somehow she’s figured out a way to balance being a super competitive kid and still be such a positive leader.”
As early as Anderson can remember, she said she has always had a competitive drive.
“I’ve definitely always been competitive,” Anderson said. “My brother and I will be playing something and just messing around, but it’s not just messing around. We’re out to win. My whole family is that way. We’ll all go golfing and it turns out more serious than it should be. That has helped me in sports, just having that competitive attitude.”
Recently retired Spanish Springs girls basketball coach Christine Eckles pointed to another factor in Anderson’s game that made her elite.
“I think one thing that makes her standout is her work ethic every single day,” Eckles said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re scrimmaging against each other in practice or scrimmaging the boys or playing a league opponent, she always wants to give her best effort. She brought it every day.”
Since first stepping foot on the SSHS campus her freshman year, Anderson has displayed that work ethic and it has resulted in a stockpile of awards.
In each of her four years as a Cougar, Anderson earned all-league volleyball and basketball honors. She is a two-time D-I North volleyball player of the year, as well as a three-time first team High Desert League selection in basketball. Anderson also has been selected the SSHS female athlete of the year as a sophomore, junior and senior and recently was recognized as one of the NIAA’s Top 10 Student Athletes of the Year. Despite all of the recognition, Anderson’s coaches and peers point to her selflessness as one of the many things that make her a special player.
“She is very humble,” Eckles said. “She’s a good teammate. The end result for her is what matters most, and for her that means be a good teammate and win games. I think that’s very respectable in today’s age. I think that’s what makes people look up to her and what coaches respect about her is that she was never about Lyndsey Anderson. It was always about the team she was playing for.”
Sandomenico said that team-first attitude was evident every day on the volleyball court. With most teams running a 5-1 offense centered around one setter, Spanish Springs captured its state championship behind a two-setter offense.
“We felt like Lyndsey needed to be an attacker as well as a setter. She’s the best setter in the state, so for us to run a two-setter offense it took a lot of her buying into it and what’s best for the team,” Sandomenico said. “It just says a lot about her. She fully bought into it.”
For Anderson, it was never a question if it would help the Cougars achieve their goal of a state title.
“Winning state is the best way to end your senior year. There’s no regrets,” she said. “I don’t feel bad or wish I could change anything about my high school career. It just leaves a good taste and good memories.”
With Anderson set to graduate, Sandomenico said her mark will still be felt well after she has left.
“I don’t know if you can measure her impact,” he said. “I think her impact on the program will be huge even after she’s gone. Not only on the girls that played with her, but even for some of the younger girls who have someone to look up to.”
Now Anderson will look to make an impact as a member of the volleyball team at the University of Nevada. Although Anderson is set to redshirt her freshman season, her old hoops coach is eager to see her play for the Wolf Pack.
“I look forward to watching her compete at the next level,” Eckles said. “I think she is so ready for it, which is exciting. Everyone wants to be a Division I athlete, but I don’t think everyone knows the work that it will take. I have no hesitations that Lyndsey will thrive in that environment. I’m excited for her to take the next step.”
It is a step Anderson cannot wait to take.
“It’s really exciting,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for a long time to go to college and now it’s almost here. It’s just one more month before I start summer workouts, so it will be here before I know it.
“Sports have always been a big part of my life I’ve learned a lot about myself from sports. I’ve learned good character and how to work hard. I’ve learned how to be a good teammate and be a positive person and have a good attitude about everything. I’ve learned a lot about my character through sport, so I’m excited to be able to continue that in college.”