High schools

National spotlight shines on area athletes

Updated: 2014-01-03T19:22:38Z

By KATHLEEN GIER

The Kansas City Star

Any high school football player would be honored to suit up for an All-American game, but for Olathe North linebacker Jimmie Swain, this nomination means something more.

On Sunday, Swain will play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Carson, Calif. During the game, he will have someone special in mind.

“It means a lot,” Swain said by telephone from California. “It is a great honor to be nominated All-American and especially getting to play in the Semper Fi game, because my brother is enlisted in the Marines. So it is an even bigger honor to be able to represent him.”

Swain is one of two Kansas City area football prospects selected to All-American rosters this weekend. Olathe South offensive lineman Braden Smith played Thursday afternoon in the Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Semper Fidelis Bowl, meanwhile, will be shown at 8 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.

After just one day of practice, Swain said on Wednesday that he could tell he was getting better just by being around the other players.

“Getting to go against the top recruits in the nation on offense and going head-to-head with them, I can already see myself improving,” Swain said. “I’ll learn from their games, pick up some things that they do, pick up some things from the coaches and the Marines like intangible things about life. The biggest thing I want to do is just learn everything I can.”

Swain, who is also listed as a four-star recruit, is set to make his decision this weekend during the weekend festivities. After receiving 19 Division-I offers, Swain has narrowed his list to Oregon and Texas A&M, and he has already notified his top choice.

The nomination caps off an already fulfilling season for Swain, who helped Olathe North return to power with a 7-4 record and a Kansas sub-state appearance. He led the team with 92 tackles, including 11 for a loss.

“It’s a little disappointing because we didn’t get to go to the state title game, but the things we were able to do for Olathe North this year -- bringing us back to what we are known for as a good football team -- it was good to be a part of that,” Swain said. “We went 3-7 last year. For me it was like a last step. I cleaned up everything. I’ve still got a lot left to do technique-wise and a few things to clean up in my game, but I am feeling really prepared.”

Smith, who has not yet made his college decision, is listed as a four-star recruit by ESPN and the top recruit in the state with 25 confirmed Division I offers.

St. James’ elite honors

St. James Academy head volleyball coach Nancy Dorsey capped off an already impressive season earlier this week when she was announced as the 2013 American Family Insurance All-USA Volleyball Coach of the Year.

In her eighth year at the helm, Dorsey led the Thunder to a 46-0 record and the Kansas Class 5A state championship. It was St. James Academy’s sixth straight state title. In her time there, the Thunder have finished the season ranked in the top five in the nation four times, including two national championships.

“The girls are at the heart of that, and their families,” Dorsey said. “I am so proud of the girls this year and what they did, and how they did it with the amount of pressure they were under. I really couldn’t have asked for a better end to a storybook season.”

Sophomore middle blocker Audriana Fitzmorris joined Dorsey on the list, earning second team All-American honors. Fitzmorris led the team with 392 kills, a .592 hitting percentage and 152 blocks this season.

“Only two underclassmen in the whole country were on that list and they were both sophomores. Everyone else was a senior, and if you look at that list, it is the who’s-who of the future of volleyball,” Dorsey said. “Her talent speaks for itself, but she is such a good kid and you couldn’t really ask for a nicer girl. She is so hard working and thoughtful about everything she does. She is a really good teammate and, with that kind of talent, that is tough to come by.”

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