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Foltz Has Set Out on His Own Path

Eric Sondheimer

April 04, 2004|Eric Sondheimer

Sometimes it takes a moment of fortitude for a young athlete to choose a different sports path than his older brother.

At Westlake Village Westlake, Travis Foltz was supposed to follow older brother Ryan into football stardom. Ryan was the Marmonte League player of the year in 2000 and received a football scholarship to California.

In the same season, Travis was a starting receiver for the freshman team. But Travis wasn't thrilled about playing football.

"I didn't like it that much," he said. "It just wasn't my thing. It wasn't something I wanted to do every day. I didn't feel I blended in."

Volleyball was the sport that excited Travis. He and his best friends could play for hours and not think about stopping.

But giving up football would be difficult, especially telling his coach and older brother.

"I knew I didn't like it, but it was hard to flat-out quit," he said.

Ryan advised him, "Make the best decision for you."

And that's what Travis did.

"The first couple of days were kind of weird, but now I think it's one of the best decisions I've ever made," he said.

Travis chose volleyball and has become one of the top setters in Ventura County. At 6 feet 2 and 165 pounds, he helped Westlake win last year's Marmonte League championship and advance to the Southern Section Division I semifinals. This season, the Warriors are off to a 5-0 start in league.

"He does a great job running the offense and has excellent balance at the net," first-year Coach Doug Magorien said.

Teammates trust Foltz completely. He fills the role of a point guard in basketball or quarterback in football.

Everything goes through him. He's the court leader. He must make split-second decisions where to set the ball and to whom.

"You have to think every play, make spontaneous decisions," Foltz said. "After I make a bad play or hustle and make a good play and then hit it into the net, you can never drop your head because they're always watching you."

People can sense how much fun Foltz is having. He loves the sport and enjoys his teammates.

"We hang out at lunch time, after school, on weekends, on Friday nights," he said.

Football Coach Jim Benkert, who guided the Warriors to a 14-0 record last season, is happy for Foltz.

"He kind of avoided me for a long time because he didn't want me to talk him out of [his decision], but I would have supported whatever he wanted," Benkert said.

And Ryan, a linebacker at Cal, couldn't be more proud of his brother.

"It really came down to what he enjoyed," Ryan said. "Travis has been good about being his own person and achieving his own success."

Foltz, who has a 3.8 grade-point average, acknowledges getting some "flashbacks" from football, wondering, "What could have been? Where would I have fit on the team?"

But he has no regrets about creating his own identity in volleyball.

*

It's a little early to say whether Mission Viejo football Coach Bob Johnson is going to look like a genius or a fool for his team's tough nonleague schedule this fall.

"We'll deal with it," Johnson said.

The Diablos play Los Alamitos, Santa Ana Mater Dei, Huntington Beach Marina, Long Beach Poly and Concord De La Salle, which has a 151-game winning streak.

At least the grueling schedule has Mission Viejo players knowing they have to work hard in the off-season.

"We're working our butts off," Johnson said.

*

Diamond Bar's softball team is considered an all-star squad by college coaches. Six players already have signed with Division I-A schools.

They include third baseman Kristen Miller with Long Beach State, shortstop Ryann Horseman and outfielder Marissa Nichols with Nevada, outfielder Christine Navarro with Towson University (Md.), catcher Rachel Folden with Marshall (W. Va.) and first baseman Tawna Tagaloa with Texas El Paso.

Eric Sondheimer can be reached at eric.sondheimer@latimes.com.

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