Thanks to her childhood acting experience, Embrey Minor is familiar with supporting roles. But on Bowie High School's volleyball team, Minor's seemingly secondary role may well make her a star.
Minor is the starting setter for the Bulldogs--who were 7-0 going into Monday night's game against No. 8 Patuxent--and the key to the team, Coach Jeremy Price said. As the setter, Minor said she is happy to be the player putting teammates in position to score points, rather than scoring them herself.
"I have the feel of being in control," said Minor, a sophomore. "The hitters always get what I call the glory. I like to be the producer of that. I'm kind of like the backstage person."
Minor, who has acted since elementary school, took up volleyball five years ago. She has appeared in television commercials and on the Arena Stage in Washington but now acts less and plays volleyball more.
At 5 feet 3, she's probably the shortest member of her team. But that doesn't keep her from getting noticed. Eleanor Roosevelt Coach Hank Howe said he was impressed during Bowie's three-set defeat of his team last month.
"Her teammates were shanking balls and she was running down all of them," said Howe, whose team is 5-3 after losses to Bowie, Patuxent and No. 2 Calvert. "She's really absolutely the key to that team."
When Minor started as a freshman for the Bulldogs last year, Price quickly noticed her poise.
"The seniors on the team last year looked up to her as a freshman," he said. "She just has a warm, kind of bubbly personality that makes people like her."
Minor just finished a busy summer, attending volleyball camps in Chicago, Minnesota and Philadelphia. The Chicago camp was for setters only, and the camp at Temple University in Philadelphia set aside three days for setting.
"For someone who is 15 years old, she is so far along it's unbelievable," Price said. "She's one of the most competitive people I've ever coached. She's extremely driven."
But before she picked up volleyball, it was acting that most held Minor's interest. She had an agent and appeared in commercials for Avon and fire awareness around the age of 5.
She also appeared on stage, acting in a production of "It's a Wonderful Life," and had a bit part in a production of "Annie."
But as she got older, it became harder to get roles. When her best friend, Stephanie Critchsield, now a freshman outside hitter for the Bulldogs, invited her to join the Deerfield club volleyball team in Laurel five years ago, she jumped at the opportunity.
Minor still acts in school plays at Bowie. She has played a swing dancer and is playing Little Red Riding Hood in "Into the Woods," a compilation of several fairy tales.
But now she says the stage is a hobby and volleyball is her main focus. Still, Minor had to think hard before deciding whether she's a better actor or volleyball player.
"I think it's kind of hard to tell because I practice volleyball so much," she said. "Acting, I just do. It depends on the role."
One thing is certain: When it comes to volleyball, the Bowie Bulldogs couldn't be happier with Minor's performance.