Hunter Beck, Dan Beck, Emma Beck and Tracie Beck sit at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 3, 2024, as Emma signs a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Hunter is Emma's brother, Dan is Emma's father and Tracie is Emma's mother and the head volleyball coach. (Photo provided)

Beck signs to play with UAA volleyball

Kenai Central senior Emma Beck signed a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball at the University of Alaska Anchorage on Wednesday in the Kenai Central gym.

At the table where she signed, Beck was surrounded by the reasons UAA would want her — trophies from Class 3A state titles in 2022 and 2023, the state banner for the 2023 title and the banner for Beck winning the Gatorade Alaska Volleyball Player of the Year for 2023-24.

Sitting next to Beck at the table, and arranged in the audience, were some big reasons Beck wanted to play at UAA.

At the table with Beck were her brother, current UAA student Hunter Beck; her father, Dan Beck; and her mother and volleyball coach, Tracie Beck.

“One of the biggest reasons is it’s just so close to family,” Emma said.

Out in the audience were 45 or 50 people who showed up to support Beck. She said some rushed over on a quick work break just to watch the occasion.

“It was just a bunch of moms from the community who always watched after me,” Beck said. “It really does take a village to raise a kid — my mom said that in her speech.

“It’s just a reminder of one of the biggest reasons I decided to stay is because people like that in my community are going to show up for me even if I am redshirting my first season and I don’t really see the court. It was so cool to have all my friends and a lot of parents watching me.”

Because Beck is redshirting her first season, she won’t get athletic money. But she does have a 4.0 grade-point average, so she will get the Alaska Performance Scholarship while she tries to earn even more money for her play on the court.

In her career at Kenai Central, Beck and her teams lost just three full-length matches.

This season, the Kards went 21-1 in full-length matches, losing only to Class 4A champ Wasilla. Kenai capped the season by winning only the second volleyball state crown in school history, with Beck the Most Outstanding Hitter for the Class 3A tourney.

State takes place at the Alaska Airlines Center — the home court of the Seawolves.

Then the awards came rolling in for Beck, first from the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

On Oct. 25, she earned the AVCA Best and Brightest Award, just one of 747 athletes and six Alaskans to do so.

On Nov. 1, she made the AVCA All-Region team for Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Beck was one of two Alaskans on the team.

On Nov. 8, she made the AVCA High School All-America Third Team. There are 50 players on the first team, 50 on the second team and 50 on the third team.

On Jan. 8, the 5-foot-11 right-side hitter won the Gatorade award. In her senior season, Beck, also the student body president, had 810 kills, or 5.9 per set, to go with 352 digs, 100 aces, 90 blocks and 62 assists.

Instead of playing basketball at the start of the season for Kenai, Beck went to Anchorage to play with Midnight Sun club volleyball and try to find a college.

Beck finished the season with Kenai’s basketball team, then played with Team Alaska at the Arctic Winter Games in the Matanuska-Susitna valleys in March. That experience solidified Beck’s collegiate choice.

“I just saw how amazing the opportunity was to get to represent my state,” Beck said. “It really showed me how amazing the state of Alaska is — the support you get for your athletes.”

Beck also said she liked the coaching staff and players at UAA.

The Seawolves finished 16-17 overall and 8-10 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference last season in head coach Stacie Meisner’s campaign.

Meisner played four years for former UAA head coach Chris Green, and also coached on his staff for six years.

Green resigned in November 2022 after a season in which the Seawolves went 27-3, won the GNAC and were ranked as high as No. 4 nationally. UAA also set a single-game, regular-season, Division II record for attendance that season that has since been broken.

In 15 seasons, Green was 313-116. He made 11 national tournament appearances and finished runner-up in 2016.

Beck is looking forward to competing in a program she grew up watching. She said even in practice as a redshirt, she will see an entirely different block than she saw at Kenai.

“I’m just so excited to go against that talent and go against these really skilled players,” Beck said. “I’m going to work really hard trying to improve my abilities as fast and as quickly as I can.”

Beck said she has not decided on a major at UAA.

Also Wednesday, the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame announced Beck is one of six finalists for the Pride of Alaska youth award.

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