Focus on fall: Athletes of the month

Kate Brand, Courtney Kelley

by Kate Brand


For senior Chris Bench, football is more than just tackling people to the ground.

“Going out there and playing with the people that have been through the same things I have, so you know, we’re a family.
We are brothers, with one sister,” Bench said.

He is the type of guy who just loves what he does on the football team.

“It’s the toughness and dedication of everyone on the field, and that’s what it means to be a bulldog,” Bench said.

To Bench, being a part of the football team gives him a lot of pride. He was a part of the team that won the title of district championship last fall.

“[It is] unlimited what we can do this season,” Bench said.

He plays defensive tackle. It’s not the most known position on the field, but Bench knows how to get the job done.

“They don’t get a lot of acknowledgement. I just do my job and kind of call it that,” Bench said.

He is known for giving 100% in everything he does. Head varsity coach Jon Franks has a lot to say about him.

“Chris is a great guy. He is one of those players who just gives great effort every single day, every single practice, and that’s what has made him a good football player,” Franks said.

Captain and senior Josh Morris thinks Bench is a key contribution to their team.

“Chris is always encouraging the guys to lift. Everyone likes him and he’s got a great sense of humor,” Morris said.

When asked about the position Bench played, Morris knew exactly what to say. Bench is known to be important to his teammates on the field.

“I would definitely say that he is an intricate part of the defensive unit,” Morris said.


In the game of volleyball, everyone knows that the best players are the ones who are willing to do anything to save a ball. Shelby Ply is one of those players who takes her game of volleyball seriously and is one of the most aggressive players on the team.

“No matter how bad you are at something, especially volleyball, if you’re aggressive, you have a spot on the court,” Ply said.

As a senior, Ply has a lot of responsibilities this year. Those could include being a leading example for the underclassmen. Her coach, Stephanie Pritchett, knows that she will meet those responsibilities.

“Shelby is a team player, she’s electrified, and a good leader on the court,” Pritchett said.

In order to be a good team, Ply knows you must show up to every practice ready to work. She and the team understand the passion that they must have for the game.

“Everybody comes to practice, everybody takes it seriously. We don’t have people there just because they want to play a sport. We have people that say, I’m going to play volleyball because I love it and I want us to succeed,” Ply said.

Ply also knows that this year, the opportunities are huge for their team.

“I think that for as far as my volleyball career for high school has gone, this is definitely our best looking team that we’ve had. I think that a big part of that is Coach Pritchett. She has brought us a really long way, even since last season,” Ply said.

Unlike past years, there are a lot of freshman on the team. With Ply’s position, she knows that it is her job to make sure that they can keep up what the upperclassmen have built.

“I think we just need to teach them to have the passion for the game that all of us upperclassmen have. I don’t think that will be a problem because we’re gonna have a really good season. A lot of the girls have really bought into the program and I think that’s really important,” Ply said.


The boys soccer team has had a lot of success over the years. Winning 15 districts championships in 27 years, they have a proven and accomplished program. Josiah Homan, a junior, is proud to be apart of his team. Homan is not new to the game, just new to the varsity goalkeeper position. Following Drew Blair who was 2nd team all-state for his junior and senior year, as well as all district, all conference, and all region, Homan feels some pressure, but he knows he can count on his team to support him.

“[I feel] a little bit of pressure. Sometimes It feels like the game is riding on you. Some field players can make mistakes and they can be accounted for. But when you are in goal, and you made a mistake, it’s a lot more pressure,” Homan said.

Homan played on the junior varsity team last year and learned quite a lot. Blair was able to pass on what he had learned onto Homan, and that gave him a lot of confidence.

“I learned from one of the best goalies that Rolla has ever had. He was an amazing person to look up to for advice and he was a very good mentor, I was lucky to have learned from him,” Homan said.

So far, the boys are 4-1 in the season. Homan is looking forward to this season, playing with his teammates he has known since junior high.

“I look forward to playing with my best friends, they are a great group of kids. Hopefully i can learn from last year,” Homan said.

Homan has been playing since the 2nd grade, but it wasn’t in his plan to be keeper until he was older.

“I‘ve played soccer almost all my life. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a striker. But being tall and slow really gave me only one option,” Homan said.

Homan has had a lot of people shape him into being the soccer player he is.

“Coach Hauck helps with me during practice. He stepped in as the intern goalkeeper coach. He does a good job at preparing me for the season,” Homan said.


Rolla Bulldogs Football has had a lot of success in these past few years. With a new head coach, Mr. Jon Franks, these players have really only known success. Trey Quick, senior varsity team captain, has known a considerable amount of this success ever since the gain of Franks.

Quick got an early start to the game, seeing as his family has a long history of sports and competitiveness.

“My family has always been competitive. So, I have always grown up around sports. I started most of my sports around kindergarten or first grade,” Quick said.

Quick is a very multifaceted athlete.

“I play football, basketball, baseball, and I’m also in track”, Quick said.

He also plays many different positions in each of these individual sports. As a captain and running back in football,
“in-the-paint” player in basketball, pitcher and center fielder in baseball, and as a 4×400 runner in track, and a very skilled athlete, at that.

Of all these sports, Quick would have to pick football as his favorite part about being involved in sports here at Rolla High School, and the “family dynamic” he and his fellow team members share.

Quick has a love for his fellow teammates that really no one else has, and he shows it well. “Just spending time after school with friends, and getting to be around them and getting to know them,” Quick said about his favorite memories of being with his teammates.

Rolla High School will definitely see so much more from Quick, and the rest of his fellow RHS athletes at the games. Take a look at the Rolla High School Fall sports schedule for all the games!

Cross Country

Aidan Sheffel is new to the school, but not new to cross country. She has been running since she was in the seventh grade when she was on the team just to try it out. Fast forward five years and Aidan has gone to state for cross country every year from ninth to twelfth grade.

“It’s exciting that I get to go again my senior year because I have gone every year of high school,” Sheffel said.

Aidan loves being on a team that she gets along with really well and that drives her to be a better runner.

“My teammates are really fun and they push me to be better, I really appreciate all they do for me,” Sheffel said.

Running and competing at State isn’t the easiest thing to do, and everyone overcomes the nerves in a different way. For Sheffel, it just doing what she knows to do, and that is to just run.

“Just calm down and realize it is just a race. Just try and do your best, because that’s all you can do,” Sheffel said.

Cross Country coach Rhett Cook is also new to the team and he enjoys what he does. Coach Cook is close with his runners, and had some great things to say about Aidan.

“Aidan is amazing and runs better and better every week. She is a very bubbly person and always has something to say that makes everyone laugh,” Cook said.

From the beginning of the season, Sheffel was determined to make it to the state meet once more and get an even better time. Her goal is to try and get her best time at her last run at state. She has enjoyed the season, and her teammates have played a huge roll in her season.

“I’ve loved running with them, I love the team, and I think we’ve gotten really close in a real short period of time,” Sheffel said.