Senior Spotlight: All-state honors were a highlight for Shaler volleyball teammates

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Thursday, May 21, 2020 | 4:35 PM


Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

Steven Hoffman and Billy Dadowski were selected to the All-WPIAL Class AAA first team and Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association all-state squad last spring after helping Shaler reach the WPIAL semifinals and advance to the PIAA quarterfinals.

“We were still working on some things as a team, but we were still able to come together and go as far as we did,” said Hoffman, a 6-foot middle hitter.

With the whole team back from last year, the Titans — including Hoffman, Dadowski, a 6-3 outside hitter, and nine other seniors — hoped to capture WPIAL gold and make a deep run at states this spring.

But, in a flash, the potential dream season was dashed.

“At first, we all had hope and thought we would be going back,” said Hoffman concerning the initial two-week suspension of all school activities by the state March 13.

“We were all working out and doing our thing to get ready for the season. But when it was canceled, it was really disheartening.”

The Shaler senior group still hopes for victory this summer as it will play as a unit at the AAU Boys Junior Nationals tentatively set for July 19-21 in Orlando, Fla.

“As soon as we heard the (high school) season was going to be cancelled, my dad looked into (AAU nationals) and felt it would be a good idea,” Hoffman said. “We got everyone together for it, and we hope it goes well.”

Hoffman will attend the University of Dayton and is enrolled in the explorer engineering program. He hopes to also play club volleyball.

Dadowski will begin classes at CCAC’s North campus and plans to work toward a degree in business and sales. He hopes to continue volleyball in an area adult league.

“(Last year) was one of the best seasons Shaler has had in a while,” Dadowski said. “We put a lot of work into it. It was a bummer we weren’t able to go further at WPIALs or at states, but it was a memorable season.”

Steven Hoffman

Describe the feeling of being selected to the PVCA all-state team for Class AAA.

That was a fantastic feeling. The hard work I put in paid off. I know I couldn’t have done it without the help and support of my teammates.

Who do you consider your toughest individual opponent in high school volleyball?

Honestly (2019 graduate and middle hitter) Jeremiah Zemet from North Allegheny was always one of the toughest competitors, especially with me starting out as a middle hitter as a sophomore. He was really strong at the net. Nothing was easy against him.

What is your best memory of playing volleyball for Shaler?

It would be our game against NA last year at NA. We took them to five sets. When we were down 14-10, I was back there serving and was able to serve four straight to get us back in the game. NA ended up winning, but we played well as a team and kept battling.

What is your best overall memory as a sports fan?

It was the Steelers’ Super Bowl win over the Cardinals. (Santonio Holmes) had that miracle catch in the end zone to win the game. I was at my friend James’ house, and we would always have a Super Bowl party when the Steelers would make it. It was definitely a nail-biter, and it was exciting to see them win it at the end.

What made the University of Dayton the right fit for your academic future?

I enrolled in the explorer engineering degree program because I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do. I just knew they had a great program there with a strong reputation. There are a lot of options for me. I had a visit planned for March, but it got canceled because of all the stuff with the coronavirus, so I had to go off of all the stuff I saw online. It just turned out to be a great fit for me.

What are you doing now to stay in shape?

We have workouts every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. There is a sand court down by my house, and that’s usually where we go. I also work out at home as much as I can in my free time.

Have you binge watched any television shows during the last couple of months of stay-at-home orders?

They just released “Avatar: The Last Airbender” (animated series) on Netflix. I just started that. There are three seasons of episodes. It’s well done.

Do you play an instrument?

I used to play the drums in the school jazz band, but it started taking up too much time in my schedule, and it didn’t allow me to take the classes I wanted. I decided to drop it. From seventh through ninth grade, we would always have concerts every three months or so to show what we were working on.

Do you hope to resume playing the drums in the future?

Yeah, that would be interesting. I think I could pick them back up. We’ll see. I have a set of drums in my basement, but I haven’t touched them in a while. I know I would definitely need some refreshers before I got back to where I was.

Is there another instrument that might pique your interest?

The piano would be fun to learn. You can play pretty much anything on there.

Is there anything you’ve seen or heard that is the source for the piano interest?

A couple of YouTube videos I’ve watched had this guy go into online lobbies of different multi-player games and just play the piano. It just sounded amazing.

If you could pick anyone from history to give a commencement speech at your graduation, who would it be and why?

I think it would be interesting to hear Abe Lincoln speak. He is an excellent speaker from everything I’ve learned about him.

If you were asked to give a speech, what advice would you give to underclassmen?

Hard work does pay off. You’re never going to want to slack off because no matter how long something takes, it will be worth it at the end.

Billy Dadowski

Describe the feeling of being selected to the PVCA all-state team for Class AAA.

It felt great, honestly. There are so many amazing players that made that team. It was a good moment when I found out. It’s nice to be honored that way after all the hard work. It was great to share that with my teammates. My teammates are everything to me.

Who do you consider your toughest individual opponent in high school volleyball?

(Four-time all-state selection and 2018 North Allegheny graduate) Canyon Tuman. I played against him my freshman year, the first game of the season. I had to block 6-7 Canyon Tuman. I was terrified. But I ended up blocking him three times, and that really hyped me up. I faced him about six times, and it was always fun to go up against him.

What is your best memory of playing volleyball for Shaler?

After every game, we would go back to our locker room at Shaler, and we had the name of every team we played on a board. We would put a checkmark next to each team that we beat. Then everyone would go crazy. Those were such nice moments.

What is your best overall memory as a sports fan?

A couple of years ago when the Steelers played the Ravens at Heinz Field, and Antonio Brown stretched over the goal line for the game-winning touchdown. We were there and seated right on the goal line. We had a great view of the play. It was perfect.

What made CCAC the right place to begin your next academic journey?

I think a smaller college environment fit me the best. I will go there for two years and then transfer somewhere else to finish. I am going to CCAC to take my English and math classes so I can then work on my other classes to complete my (business and sales) degree.

What are you doing now to stay in shape?

I am playing some basketball, and I work out at home with weights and walk on the treadmill. I also like to get out and go for a run around my neighborhood. I just want to do whatever I can to stay active.

Have you binge watched any television shows during the last couple of months of stay-at-home orders?

I just rewatched “Friends.” I had watched it a year ago. It’s just a great show. It’s pretty funny.

Do you play an instrument?

I used to play the saxophone back in middle school. I signed up for a music class in school with a teacher.

Do you still have the saxophone, and do you think you could pick up where you left off?

I still have it, but I haven’t played it for a while. I was pretty decent. I’m not going to lie. I think I could play OK now.

Is there another instrument that might pique your interest?

My cousin has a trumpet, and he was teaching me how to play it when I was at his house. I would be down with learning how to play it.

If you could pick anyone from history to give a commencement speech at your graduation, who would it be and why?

Kobe Bryant. I think he would be a very motivated speaker with an important message.

If you were asked to give a speech, what advice would you give to underclassmen?

Don’t give up, honestly. We didn’t give up in volleyball, and it helped us have a great season last year and took us to being ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL (Class AAA) this year.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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