Danielle Meehan is a self-made student athlete.
Among the highest in her class academically and athletically at Post Falls High School, her success in the classroom and athletic arena hasn’t come easily. She possesses a work ethic that is second to none.
An honors student, Meehan, a senior, has a weighted 3.8 grade-point average. In volleyball, the best of the three sports she plays, she was named the Inland Empire League’s newcomer of the year last year.
Meehan, who was Post Falls’ female scholar athlete last year, is challenging herself this year by taking three Advanced Placement classes that will provide college credits if she completes them. In volleyball, she’s not only elevated her play but has taken on a leadership role as one of the Trojans’ two captains.
“She’s one of those kids who is 100 percent, 100 percent of the time, in everything she does,” Post Falls coach Willow Hanna said. “She has a real competitive edge, but she carries herself in a way that the competitive edge is really positive. She brings this presence onto the court that exudes the well-rounded person and player she is.”
The 5-foot-8 outside hitter led Post Falls in kills (137) and was second in digs (103) last year. Through the first two weeks of the season, she leads in both statistics and is well ahead of last year’s pace.
Her leadership is evident on the court. In a win over Lake City, the Trojans lost the first game. On game point, a ball fell to the court untouched in front of Meehan and libero teammate Breeanna Friebe. A libero is a defensive player who digs out balls hit by the opposing team and passes to teammates from the back row.
Meehan didn’t hesitate, pointing to herself and taking fault.
“I was in the seam. It was my ball, and I should have taken it,” she said.
All in the family
Meehan, who started last year on the Trojans’ basketball team and has been a four-year participant in track, has grown up around athletics, especially volleyball. Her mother, Jodene, played at the University of Montana.
The Meehans have a net in their backyard – a full-sized court with painted lines – where three daughters often take on mom and dad.
Mom has coached all three daughters in club. She’s also coached most of the Trojans’ seniors at some point.
Her parents often videotape her volleyball and basketball games. They offer praise coupled with constructive criticism after reviewing the games.
“With mom and dad, it’s like having coaches at home,” Meehan said. “Mom works with me a lot. She’s really smart and knows the game.”
Meehan wants to play volleyball in college. Hanna knows Meehan isn’t tall enough to be an outside hitter at an NCAA Division I school, but she has the skills to be a libero at that level.
“Although we haven’t necessarily identified where she can play, there’s absolutely a place for her,” Hanna said.
Hanna is amazed at how Meehan is able to balance life. She’s involved in community service projects and with her church, and finds time to squeeze in a part-time job.
She started the school year with four AP classes, but dropped AP physics to increase quality time on her other studies.
“We were in the locker room an hour before our match with Lake City and she’s talking about a physics assignment with her teammates,” Hanna marveled. “She’s got everything in perspective. One of the biggest things I respect about her is her character. Her character will carry her really far regardless of her volleyball skills.”
The Trojans, who completed a first-half sweep of the league’s 5A teams by sweeping Coeur d’Alene on Tuesday, are a contender for one of the two state berths from the region. Meehan is one of a half dozen players who have elevated their level this season.
She had no hitting errors in a match against Sandpoint and just one against LC.
“She’s extremely efficient with her swing,” Hanna said. “I’ve made it very clear to our setters to get her the ball. We’re going to find Dani if we need to score.”
Defensively, few balls get past Meehan.
“She cleans it up in the back row,” Hanna said. “She knows how to read balls and get on the floor. She’s one of those kids when you teach her something she absorbs it.”
Meehan, who suffered from weak ankles last year, is as healthy as she’s ever been. She could be walking in a hallway at school and sprain an ankle. The school’s athletic trainer put her on a month-long program last year that required her to have her ankles taped all the time except when she was in bed.
Her mom taped her ankles each morning before she took a shower.
“I’d put plastic bags around my feet so I could take a shower,” she said.
Her ankles had to be taped for the homecoming dance, too.
“I wore sandals and you could see the tape job,” she said, smiling.
Now she keeps braces in her court shoes for practice and matches and hasn’t had a problem this year.
Another reason Meehan is enjoying this season is because it is her first playing alongside her sister Allison, a sophomore middle hitter. At times they find themselves side by side in the front and back rows.
“It’s special. It’s been a lot of fun,” she said.
The Trojans are seeking their first state berth since 1991 and just the second in school history. But they’re not going to put the kill before the serve.
“We obviously hope to go to state, but we’re just trying to focus and play our game,” Meehan said. “We have a lot of little steps we have to take before we can think about it. You can’t get to state until you’ve done all the little steps that lead up to it.”
Spoken like a true leader.