Jen Feldmann is best known for what she does on the volleyball court, where the senior setter's pinpoint passes have led top-ranked Centennial to 26 consecutive victories. She reads plays before they develop, giving her the time she needs to dive across the court and dig a spike or flip a perfect set behind her head to an open teammate.
"The best way I can explain it is there are some quarterbacks like Peyton Manning who survey the field and read the defense so he can call the play that gives his team the best advantage," Coach Mike Bossom said. "And then there are other quarterbacks who just look at the play on their wrist band, and that's the one the team's going to run no matter what. Every decision Jen makes gives us that little advantage, and that's what makes a great setter."
Feldmann has guided her team to a 42-3 record since starting as a sophomore, when Centennial reached the Maryland 3A semifinals. Centennial finished 20-0 season last year with the 3A title, its sixth state championship in nine years.
Centennial entered the week 6-0, including wins over three ranked teams: Broadneck, Atholton and Reservoir, which it defeated 25-21, 26-24, 25-15 on Sept. 29.
"It was great to win the state title last year, but that was a different team," said Feldmann, who posted 539 assists, 196 digs, 37 kills and 9 blocks last year. "The team we have this year hasn't won a state title, and the goal is to win one of our own. After last year, there's a lot of pressure."
Pressure is a word Feldmann understands. She's an honor roll student at one of the state's most academically demanding public schools. At the same time, the 5-foot-5 tri-captain is trying to overcome a significant size disadvantage to play in college next year and help her team win what would be a state-record 12th title.
"I'm so busy," she said, "that sometimes I just need to relax."
That's when she puts down the volleyball and picks up a paintbrush. For as good as Feldmann is on the court, she might be better in the art studio.
Her oil painting of a peacock and a watercolor of red and yellow peppers sold for $160 together at an auction to benefit the school's college scholarship fund. Her paintings of a mallard, two swans and a Canada goose hang in her home.
"I've seen her play volleyball, but you should see what she does with a brush -- everything she touches she does beautifully -- and rarely have I ever seen a kid with her skill," said Nan Collins, an art teacher for 24 years, including 13 at Centennial. "She sees and records things that most people can't. I think since she's good at volleyball, it shows she has good motor skills, and that gives her the ability to control a paint brush as well as she does."
"Painting gives me the relaxation I need, not having to think about school and volleyball," Feldmann said. "It lets me get away from everything for a little while."
Feldmann smiles when she thinks about how far she has come and how fortunate she is for the life she has. She was born in Korea to a single mother who put her up for adoption, and John and Linda Feldmann brought her to America when she was 4 months old.
"I'm just so lucky to be where I am today," Feldmann said. "I don't know what would have happened if I never got the chance to come here."