By Jim Irish
Photos by Matthew Brooks
Bastrop High School graduate Sarah Ghormley has credited “time management” for her ability to juggle academics and athletics.
Ghormley graduated summa cum laude from Austin’s Concordia University two weeks ago with a B.S. degree in Behavioral Science. She finished with a 3.9 grade point average and had only one "B" in a statistics class during her four years at the college.
Ghormley also excelled academically at Bastrop, graduating third in the class of 2018.
“I would say that school is something that has always come easily to me, being able to apply everything from all my (former) classes to new classes,” she said.
Concordia volleyball coach Nicole McCoy noticed Ghormley’s drive as soon as she stepped on campus.
"...She strives to be the best at everything she does."
-- Concordia volleyball coach Nicole McCoy about Sarah Ghormley
“We had her on campus (as a recruit) and felt like she was a great fit,” McCoy said via email. “She strives to be the best at everything she does.”
Ghormley, a 5-foot-10 outside hitter, tore three ligaments in her left ankle soon before the start of her freshman season at Division III Concordia and missed the majority of non-conference matches.
“I didn’t think I was going to play,” she said. “I had worked so hard all summer. I did a lot of rehab. By the time conference matches rolled around, I was good to go.”
Her freshman season was the best of the four. The Tornados finished 12-3 in the American Southwest Conference and 23-7 overall.
“Sarah is very athletic,” McCoy said. “I could see the potential because she could do it all: pass, block, swing efficiently. We tweaked some things her freshman year, and she came in and immediately made an impact by the end of the year. She was also one of the hardest-working athletes in the gym.”
In each of her next three seasons, Ghormley was selected to the all-conference first team. Her junior season was the best with 350 kills and 272 digs, first and second on the team, respectively.
Her fondest memory occurred during a conference match at East Texas Baptist University in 2021. Ghormley was at outside hitter, while Krystal Gundy, a freshman setter, played her first match because a teammate was injured.
“The fans are crazy, and the arena is a bowl,” Ghormley said. “I remember we were in this really heated match. We ended up sweeping them, but in the middle of the second set, it was really tight, back and forth. The fans were getting into it. We were super competitive. (Gundy) set me the perfect, perfect ball, and I just remember I hit the 10-foot line (on the kill). Our bench went crazy. The coaches went crazy. It gave (Gundy) more confidence.”
Ghormley’s 992 career kills rank sixth all-time at the college. She is eligible to play another season because of the Covid rule, but she declined.
"I remember that she was always hard working. ..."
-- Nicole Creek, Ghormley's high school volleyball coach
“I don’t know if I can put myself through another season,” she said. “I just feel really old now,”
Ghormley’s college success has not surprised Nicole Creek, who coached her for three years at Bastrop. Creek’s sentiments echoed McCoy’s.
“I remember that she was always hard working,” said Creek, currently an assistant principal at Hays Johnson. “She was always wanting to be the best. I could rely on her for six rotations from sophomore to senior year.”
Ghormley was chosen all-district first team each of her three seasons at Bastrop and also selected the MVP at outside hitter.
In January, Ghormley starts her career as a therapist for autistic children at Action Behavior Centers in Leander. She plans to pursue a master’s degree online in the fall.
Jim Irish is a freelance writer living in Bastrop, Texas