Stars of sand, court earn Division I scholarships

jlembo@bradenton.comApril 16, 2011 

BRADENTON -- Today on the beaches of Siesta Key, Emily Strack and Aurora Newgard will be defending their championship.

This time next year, they’ll be rivals.

After starring for the past two seasons on the court and the sand with the State College of Florida, Strack and Newgard are headed to beach volleyball programs with the University of North Florida and Florida State, respectively.

Strack and Newgard teamed to win the Collegiate Beach Volleyball Challenge last year. This year’s tournament is today.

“We’re going to be playing against each other next year,” Strack said. “It didn’t work out for me at FSU. I was going to go there, but I couldn’t play indoor, and that was a big thing for me.”

Strack, an opposite hitter and setter, will play with UNF’s indoor and outdoor teams. Newgard will stick to the sand for the Seminoles’ new intercollegiate beach team.

“My favorite has always been beach. I was definitely OK with just doing that,” Newgard said. “It just worked out.”

An outside hitter, Newgard was named the Suncoast Conference Player of the Year last fall after tallying 561 kills, 342 digs and 66 aces while leading the Manatees to a conference championship.

Strack, who was named to the conference’s second team, is a right-side hitter and setter.

She was third on the team with 218 kills and 103 assists.

Being able to play indoor and outdoor volleyball was a big reason Strack chose UNF.

“I really love the Jacksonville area, and the coach at UNF, Kevin Campbell, is amazing,” Strack said. “And the (players) are amazing, the school is amazing -- it just worked out really perfectly. I love North Florida, and I’m going to be close to Aurora.”

They’re going to be opponents, too.

“We know each other, and that’s why we gel together,” Strack said. “(Today) is the last time that we’ll probably play together.”

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