Thomas Welch, Reporter
Carson Allsteadt was a driving force this season for New Canaan volleyball, leading the team to an FCIAC appearance and a first round win at states. Being a dominant player on the court, she led the team in kills and digs. This season, she helped the team to a 5-set win over Darien, the program’s first in 15 years. She also has won an award given out by the referees for outstanding performance and great sportsmanship. With her outstanding performance, it must be kept in mind just how far she’s come.
Carson first entered the NCHS program as a freshman having never played a single volleyball game. While at first her lack of prior knowledge for the game held her back, the coaches saw a lot of potential in her. As a result, she was put on the freshman team under Coach Cohen. Kim Palmer, the former varsity coach, remembered how Carson was recognized from the very beginning. “Coach Cohen would always come and talk to me about how each girl on the team was playing, and the first one she mentioned was always Carson,” she said.
After her freshman season, Carson joined a club team during the offseason. There, she stepped up her entire game from natural talent to accurate skill, dramatically improving her passing, setting, and hitting. Her co-captain Hayley Salvatore clearly remembers her improvement. “It was crazy to see from freshman year when she could barely underhand serve to sophomore year where she could consistently overhand serve. A lot of people just played a sport to get to know other people whereas Carson wanted to improve herself and play the game,” she said.
Carson got a chance to prove herself when she made varsity the next year. “It was pretty intimidating to join [varsity]not really knowing anyone on the team, but everyone was so welcoming and friendly so I really enjoyed it,” she said. Here, she got the valuable practice, experience, and advice she would need to excel her next 2 years with the team.
The valuable experience, practice, and advice she got during sophomore year lead her to become a power player her junior year. At this time, many began to see the raw potential and drive Carson had for the game, including Coach Palmer. “She’s the type of kid that knows how to put in the work and understands that the work she needs to do, especially in the offseasons, will get her better,” she said.
Coach Palmer also sees her character as a benefit to her performance. “She’s such a sweet kid that people want to be around. I knew from the moment she came that she would become a factor as she got older, not only from her natural ability, but her personality,” she said. Her work, attitude, and dedication paid off, as she secured her starting spot on varsity and even the role of team captain for her senior year.
The new head coach the following year, Kevin Marino, gave her the spot not only because of her talent, but her humility and passion as well. “She was our heart and soul,” he said. “Normally your best player isn’t as humble and driven to get better as she is.”
Coach Marino notices how influential she was to the group. “So many people have been saying they just want to play like Carson,” he said. “She makes everyone around her want to be better.”
Like many, Coach Marino made sure to emphasize her hard work. “She’ll continue to dominate with her athletic ability and swing, but it’s her hard work that really separates her from other people,” he said.
This season Carson gained attention, hitting 450 kills and passing 344 digs. Hayley believes that Carson exceeded everyone’s expectations. “We all expected her to really pull our team up, but she did more than we anticipated her to do,” she said. “She would always talk and pump us up before games. Before people would serve, she would always go over to them and encourage them.”
Carson’s drive and support from her team showed, as they ended the season with a record of 10-8, including an appearance at both FCIACs and states. “I was just coming in open-minded to new coaching and new players, and just ready to work hard to do as best as we could,” she said.
Her story doesn’t end here. Carson will continue to play for the volleyball program at Washington & Lee and start her future in the college league. Hayley is excited for her teammate. “She has a great future ahead of her. Washington & Lee has a great program and she’s worked so hard to get there,” she said. “She deserves all of it.”