First Volleyball Game

First Volleyball Game

Sammy Saiki

The Hawks in the middle of their first battle at home! (Norah Little)


Tuesday Aug. 30, 2022 marks Horizon’s first home volleyball tournament. Led by team captains Izzy Saiki (12th grade) and Emersen Strain (11th grade), the group played ferociously against the Denver South Ravens in a game honoring the late member of the team, Julie-Ellen Jackson. In a tribute to Jackson’s life, the stands were layered in different shades of red, which was her favorite color. The team was victorious in their efforts against the Ravens in the 3-0 tournament and celebrated their win with an homage to their passed teammate and her family.

I managed to snag an interview with a few of the teammates following their victory to discuss Julie Ellen Jackson and her influence on the team. 


How would you describe Julie-Ellen?

Isabelle Saiki: “She was indescribable. She was the person who would always have a smile on her face, she was always happy, even when the vibe wasn’t good. I just remember playing with her and when we were down, she could bring the entire team up.”

Emma Kruger: “She was a phenomenal person, she always wanted to lift people up no matter what. Even if she played, even if she didn’t play, she wanted to congratulate every single person who stepped on that court”

Emersen Strain: “A word that had always emulated her was ‘light’. She stepped into a room and immediately brought light to it, she impacted so many people’s lives with the kindness and joy that she had.”

The volleyball players discussing their next play in the midst of their game. (Nora Little)


What is your favorite memory with Her?

Saiki: “Oh, there are way too many! For sure all of the memories on the court, specifically whenever she made a good play she would do a little hop after and which motivated the whole team as well.”

Kruger: “One time, I set her and she got a kill and she literally pushed me on the ground and started yelling in my face because she was so incredibly excited for both of us.”

Strain: “There are a lot. I just remember hanging out and sharing laughs with her. Those memories stuck the most with me.”


How did Julie-Ellen impact your life?

Saiki: “I honestly just learned so much from her. Like I said, I never saw a frown on her face so I just feel like she taught me that even when life may be down, you should just keep a smile on your face because you never know how you can affect other people.”

Kruger: “She made me want to be happier and never take anything for granted.”

Strain: “She taught me that at the end of the day that volleyball is a game and it matters how you connect with who you play and the lessons that you learn. I really just want to be that person for someone else the way she was for me.”


Following the game, the team came together to take a photo with Jackson’s jersey, commemorating her memory.


Overall, how do you think the game and the amount of support for Jackson was?

Saiki:”I thought it was awesome. The Horizon Student Body really proved their morals and so did our team especially with Ellen in mind.”

Kruger: “I feel like I could have done better, but the energy was insane and I am very happy that we got to win for Ellen.”

Strain: “I felt pretty good about the game overall. Especially seeing all the support for Ellen and her family, it was just inspiring.”


Altogether, the Horizon Hawks proved themselves to be not only supportive of our teams, but of our community as a whole. The support brought for Julie-Ellen Jackson was tremendous and she will be greatly missed by her teammates and her entire school.