Kristi Fertick had no idea the Virginia High School Coaches Association all-star games were played each summer, pitting recently graduated seniors from across the state. But when Stone Bridge volleyball coach Jill Raschiatore informed Fertick that she had been chosen to play in the game, Fertick jumped at the chance.
"I knew as soon as she told me about it that I really wanted to do it," Fertick said. "I'm just afraid I'm going to be pretty out of shape."
Unlike most of the area's 12 other athletes participating in six sports, Fertick isn't interested in honing her skills for college. The game, which will be played Wednesday at Christopher Newport University, is her last hurrah.
Fertick did not pursue a college scholarship despite being a much-heralded all-state performer and drawing plenty of attention after a senior season in which she led the Bulldogs to the Virginia AA semifinals. She had 327 kills, 442 digs and 92 blocks, but Fertick will forgo athletics and instead study biology at James Madison in her quest to become an orthopedic surgeon.
"I really thought about it during my senior year," Fertick said of playing in college. "I thought about it for a very long time. But in the end I just decided I didn't want to go through all the commitment that comes with playing sports in college. I just wanted to be able to focus on my grades and have fun."
Fertick, who became interested in orthopedics after dislocating her knee playing soccer during her sophomore year, said she'll look for club or intramural teams to join. But the all-star game will be her last truly competitive, organized outing. It's for that reason she said she wishes there were other Dulles District players competing this week; Loudoun County graduate Whitney Knudsen, the only other area volleyball player invited, elected to participate in the softball game instead.
Fertick and Knudsen were second-team All-Mets and shared honors as the Loudoun Extra player of the year in volleyball. Knudsen led the Raiders to the Virginia AA semifinals, totaling 288 kills, 105 blocks and 329 digs.
But Knudsen was also a first-team All-Met pick in softball, batting .521 this season with 16 extra-base hits and no errors at second base.
"I'd like to have been able to play with Kristi, but the reason I wanted to go for softball is because I think it'll be the closest thing to college ball I've seen," said Knudsen, who will play softball next year for North Carolina Wilmington. "I think it'll be a good preview of what's to come since you're playing against the top performers in the state. It'll be cool to see what it's like to play against that level of competition."
Fertick, meanwhile, is simply looking forward to savoring every moment of her last high school game.
"This is probably the most competitive thing I'll do for a while, and that's upsetting," Fertick said. "And I guess it hasn't really even sunk in completely. Next year when I don't go to a tryout or don't have practice every day, that's when it'll hit me. I've been playing competitive sports since I started soccer when I was 4 years old, so this will be a big change. But I think it's the right one for me.
"I just want to enjoy this last one, first."