— When it comes to successful athletic and academic families in Hendricks County, the Griffins of Avon, parented by Clark and Julie, have to be among the more notable in its history.
The Griffins’ oldest daughter, Katie, just wrapped up her volleyball career at Purdue and is finishing up her student teaching prior to graduation. Oldest son Kendall is a junior at Wright State in Dayton, Ohio, where he’s a key cog on the men’s basketball team. And after winning back-to-back volleyball state titles and the Class 4A Mental Attitude Award, younger daughter Rachel will be off to Indiana State in the fall to continue her playing career.
All have stood out in sports, in the classroom and to the people who meet them.
“While it’s exciting for our kids to excel athletically, it’s more important to us that they excel academically and most importantly be good people and express God’s love and kindness toward others,” Clark said. “Leadership is a focus in our household. We want our kids to lead by example and be good teammates.
Katie led the way for her sister and brothers (in addition to Kendall, younger brother Andrew is a sophomore athlete at Avon). A 2009 AHS grad, she helped the Orioles to four regional appearances. At Purdue, the Boilermakers went to the NCAA Tournament in each of her four years of eligibility.
“That was a great experience,” Katie said of the tourney trips. “Selection Sunday is awesome, then the travel, preparing for a team that you’ve probably never seen, the gear you get, everything.”
At last month’s team banquet, Katie was presented the Carol Dewey Award, which the Boilers vote on to choose the one who “best exemplifies the positive image represented by Purdue volleyball.”
“That was really cool to receive because it means that my teammates really respected me and cared about how I went about my business,” Katie said.
Katie’s award was no surprise to Rachel.
“She couldn’t possibly be a better role model for me,” Rachel said. “I joke with her all the time that she’s perfect, and she gets really irritated at me for it, but everybody knows it. She taught me how to be a good teammate before anything about being a better player, and she’s the hardest working person I’ve ever known in the classroom.”
The four-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree is currently taking her love of education to the audience of her future profession. After she wraps up an eight-week stint at an elementary school in Lafayette, the family consumer sciences major will put in two months at Plainfield High School.
“After that I’ll enjoy my first summer of real life and hopefully get a job on the Westside,” Katie said.
Meanwhile, Kendall is locked into his junior season at Wright State, where it took a while for the 2011 AHS grad to get acclimated to Division I hoops.
“The first thing you notice is the speed of the game,” Kendall said. “It took me most of my freshman year to adjust, and once I did, I really started focusing on defense. From there I’ve tried to develop my offensive game and help there wherever I can.”
So far this season, Kendall’s averaging 5.4 points and 2.9 rebounds in 25 minutes per contest for the Raiders, who are tied for fourth place in the Horizon League.
A superb student as well, the biomedical engineering major has a lot of future options to consider.
“I’m still trying to decide if I want to go to medical school or pharmacy school, get my master’s, I’m not sure,” he said.
One choice could be to find a grad school near the future Florida home of good friend and former Oriole Patrick Rodgers, who’ll begin his professional golf odyssey after he finishes at Stanford in the spring.
“We’ve talked about it, finding a school while he gets his pro career going,” Kendall said. “We’ll see what ends up falling into place.”
While the youngest of the trio, it was Rachel who achieved a longtime family goal – winning a state championship.
“They were so supportive of me,” the honors student and all-state athlete said of her siblings. “Kendall was there and Katie called me crying after the first and second one. We really wanted it.”
Kendall said both titles were memorable experiences for the family.
“It was awesome to be there and see those,” he said. “I watched Katie work so hard at it and be disappointed that they didn’t win it, and I struggled with that my whole high school career, not winning a sectional in basketball and losing in regionals in football. To see Rachel do it was amazing, especially to see the great support they had.”
One of the more difficult things for each has been not being able to see one another play as much as they’d like because of crammed, conflicting schedules.
“I’ve never seen their games as much as I wanted to,” Katie said. “We always go see Kendall over Christmas, and I made it to three of Rachel’s games this year, which was awesome, but I would’ve wanted to see a lot more.”
That opportunity will come soon enough when Rachel’s at ISU, where she’s ready to take the next step in her life and live up to the standard set by her older sister and brother.
“It’s very exciting and a great opportunity to play Division I volleyball while getting my schooling paid for,” Rachel said. “It’s also nice being just an hour away from home.”
The Griffin children all praise their parents, who were multi-sport athletes at Marian College in the 1980s.
“I have no idea how they did what they did, but they are amazing parents and people,” Rachel said. “If we do anything that’s remotely wrong, the guilt just kills us. We don’t ever want to let them down, and we all just encourage one another.”
— Follow Hendricks County Flyer sports writer Brent Glasgow on Twitter @BGlasgow37.