© October 18, 2011
By Ray Nimmo
Sean Peterson might now be a Tidewater Conference Player of the Year candidate and potential Division I college recruit, but it was some advice from Mom that kickstarted his volleyball career.
The words of wisdom came in sixth grade when Peterson entered his first year at a new school.
"My mom told me to pick up a new sport in the fall since I only played basketball," said Peterson, a junior outside hitter for Norfolk Collegiate who averaged 12 kills per game as a sophomore.
Volleyball was the only option, but Peterson didn't take to it without some resistance.
"I didn't know anything about (volleyball)," he said. "I didn't want to play. At practice, I was like, 'I'm never going to play.' "
Peterson didn't begin appreciating and understanding the sport until the end of seventh grade. That's also when he began developing a cannon for a right arm.
He cemented his commitment to the sport in ninth grade when he added travel volleyball to his schedule.
Since then, Peterson has grown to 6-foot-4 and Oaks coach Tonya Boser calls him physically intimidating. She estimates once a game a Peterson spike strikes an unprepared opponent.
"Sean usually tags another player pretty good," Boser said. "He doesn't do it intentionally, but the entire gym goes silent and you can hear people going, 'Ooohhh.' "
While there's no question about his offensive talent, Boser had some concerns last season about Peterson's effort.
"Last year Sean was very immature and gave up a lot," Boser said. "When things weren't going our way, he would kind of shut down a little bit."
"I've matured," he said. "(What changed was) a lot of talking with people and seeing other people that gave way more effort than I was giving and how that translated to their teammates."
Peterson's new motivation has helped the No. 10 Oaks to a 12-1 record. He's considering Penn State - one of the best men's volleyball schools in the nation - George Mason and the University of California-San Diego as potential college destinations.
"He is a leader," Boser said. "Now when things aren't going our way, he rallies, he goes for balls on defense, diving all over the place, reading the other team's offense. He's being the player I thought he could be."