Sarah Jenkins has a new role as a senior leader for Carmel this season.
Roles are nothing new for Jenkins, though. As far back as a decade ago, she played a munchkin in a stage production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
“I really fell in love with acting,” Jenkins said. “I love playing a role and telling a story on stage.”
Jenkins has flourished as an actor and performer ever since. On the court, she has been developing a better command of volleyball since pausing to play tennis with her sister Lauren during her sophomore year.
“I wanted to play a sport with my sister one last time before she went to college,” Sarah Jenkins said. “I had to choose between the two since they’re during the same season.”
Lauren Jenkins, who attends Illinois, is two years older.
“It kind of felt like we were Venus and Serena,” Lauren Jenkins said. “At Carmel, we’d be on the courts at the same time, so it was a lot of fun.”
Sarah Jenkins returned to volleyball as a junior, starting last season on Carmel’s junior varsity team.
“When I returned to volleyball, I needed to build my skills back up,” she said. “I felt like, ‘I really miss this sport.’ I wanted to play more. It felt so good to come back to volleyball. Having time off from the sport made me realize how much I love to play it.
“I’m super excited for this year now. We’re going to have a great season.”
Jenkins was called up to varsity late last season, and she remained with the team for the playoffs. The Corsairs (10-23) lost to Vernon Hills in a Class 3A regional final.
“She learned very quickly and became one of the standout performers,” Carmel coach David Pazely said. “Sarah is the type of person that knows when to be serious and when to have fun. But even when she’s competing, she has a smile on her face. She makes everyone around her better because she has a selfless heart and genuinely cares for others.”
Jenkins will play right-side hitter and occasionally setter in her first full varsity season.
“Volleyball is a sport where you have to come together as a team, and I really love that,” she said. “You have to be together. Almost every point, almost everyone touches the ball. You have to be talking to each other.”
Jenkins thrives in that team environment, whether she’s on the court or on the stage.
“I think the two are similar,” she said. “We work together to have a good performance, whether it’s athletic or theatrical. You have to put trust in those around you, in your teammates or castmates, to put on a good performance.”
Jenkins’ volleyball teammates relish the chance to watch her and cheer for her.
“They support me a lot,” Jenkins said. “They come to my shows. The community at Carmel is very supportive.”
That extends to Jenkins’ family.
“I always drive back home to see her shows,” Lauren Jenkins said. “She’s so impressive on the stage. She’s so talented and nails every role she gets.”
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Sarah Jenkins regularly stars in musicals at Carmel as well as Street Scenes, an event held every February.
“I feel at home on the stage,” she said. “It’s so surreal to play a part and be a different character, to be able to tell a story with your classmates. It’s a special feeling to get on stage and act your heart out and dance your heart out.”
The Corsairs are hoping Jenkins brings that to the court.
“Her teammates are begging her to (sing in practice),” Pazely said.
She might sing the national anthem before a match this season, according to Pazely.
“Maybe,” Jenkins said with a laugh.
Sam Brief is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.