The mechanics behind a tennis serve and a volleyball swing are virtually identical movements. The wind-up, point of contact and follow through are hammered home day after day, practice after practice for high school athletes. Both movements came effortlessly to Bayfield High School senior Mavis Edwards.
But after Edwards tore her labrum before the start of a promising junior season, she had to re-think her movements. Just going through the motions was never in the back of her mind, and she was determined to return to play.
After months of physical therapy, Edwards had a final season to remember, as she helped the Wolverines reach the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 3A volleyball State Tournament for the first time since 2017, when she contributed to the team as a freshman.
After a year off the tennis court, Edwards also expected to return to her No. 1 singles form for the Durango High School girls tennis team, where she had finished runner-up and fourth place at the previous two state tournaments. Edwards won all three matches DHS participated in before the spring season was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For her resilience and passion showed in the face of adversity, Edwards was named The Durango Herald Girls Comeback Athlete of the Year for the 2019-2020 season.
As often the case with athletes, it’s only when a sport is taken away in an instant when they appreciate it more.
“My whole life was around sports growing up,” said Edwards, daughter of Paul and Vivian Edwards. “My family was all about it, and I got burnt out a bit, if that makes sense. But I think having my junior year taken away from me was a hit in the face because I missed it so much when you can’t do it. It was a humbling experience because I thought, ‘I just want to be done,’ but I did it anyways. That’s all I really knew, but when I wasn’t able to do it, it was heartbreaking not being able to do anything and seeing your friends do something that you once did.”
Edwards’ quiet and nurturing leadership helped a young Wolverines volleyball squad reach its full potential. Her on-court play was unmissable.
She led BHS in kills (227), attempts (529) hitting percentage (.285), and was second on the team in assists (88), digs (245) and service aces (32). She was named to the CHSAA Class 3A All-State honorable mention team for her performance.
Bayfield head coach Terene Foutz said Edwards was instrumental in helping the program return to being among the top programs in 3A.
“Mavis set such a great example for our younger players on how to stay calm under pressure,” Foutz said. “She really set the tone for when it came to being clutch and when it counted. She dug deep and led from within. She’s one of those kids that just changes programs because she made everybody around her better.”
After her return from injury, Edwards took a new approach to both tennis and volleyball. Though she was aware of her talent, she didn’t fend off tips from coaches but actively embraced their advice. She found a new love for her teammates and soaked it all in.
“I only got to coach Mavis for a few weeks, but she had a big impact,” said DHS girls tennis head coach Darren Tarshis. “From a coaches’ perspective, what was really reassuring about her is that she played at such a high level and was also very coachable and was open to what I’d tell her.”
Edwards’ impact on Bayfield volleyball will be felt for years. So, too, will her long-lasting leadership traits. She will attend Northern Arizona University in the fall and plans to major in criminal justice and forensic psychology.
“I’d say to the athletes that have to miss their sport, ‘Never take the opportunity for granted,’” Edwards said. “I was blinded by how much of a privilege it is to compete. When I came back, I had so much fun because instead of focusing on myself, I actively listened to coaches. Try to always strive to get better, love your teammates and take in everything you can.”
Editor’s note: The Durango Herald selected high school sports players of the year based on a unanimous decision between sports editor John Livingston and former sports writer Brendan Ploen. Increased consideration was given to multi-sport athletes who showed leadership in their communities.