New Washington senior Caroline Ricks loves volleyball, school and animals, and she will combine all three passions when she plays for Georgetown College and pursues a career as a veterinarian after graduation. She’s a Class A All-State selection who is powering the Mustangs, coached by her mother, Michelle McCutcheon, into the state tournament next week.
What is the mother-daughter relationship when Mom is also coach?
It’s difficult. She’s your mother and you’re always going to have little arguments going. For the most part, it’s not too bad. I know she is doing what she knows, doing what is best for me, coaching me how she knows how to coach. So I put away the whole mother-daughter thing and turn it into player-coach.
Most coaches are tougher on their kids. Do you get that feeling?
I think she’s tougher on me, but it’s only because she knows what I’m capable of and she knows how hard to push me. Usually she doesn’t take it home. It’s the gym, practice, games and then home. We don’t talk about it at home; she keeps the family life completely separate.
What do you love about volleyball?
I enjoy everything about it. I enjoy being around the people, the hard work that comes with it. I just enjoy being part of a team, basically being part of a family.
What made you decide to play at Georgetown College?
It’s not too far from home and they have a great program. It’s a Christian school, which I really loved. I love the atmosphere, the players, the coach, the campus. It’s not close enough for my family to drop in every five seconds, but it’s close enough that if I need them, they’re there.
What pointed you toward a possible career as a veterinarian?
Every since I was little, I’ve loved animals. I’ve wanted to help them. We have dogs, horses and my grandfather used to have cattle. So I’ve been around that my whole life. I’m a country girl. I love being outside, just being in the outdoors.
What are the advantages of growing up in a small school?
It’s how close everyone is, how everyone at the school is a family. We all get along, and that’s really what is most important.
What lessons have you learned from playing high school sports?
I think I’ve learned how to be mentally tough, how hard work will get you far in life. I’ve also learned you can’t do anything without the support and help of others. I would not be the person I am today if not for my team and everyone that has helped me. Being an athlete, especially with a team sport, really molds your character into a better person.
What does being a student-athlete mean to you?
It represents that athletics is important, and being a part of something is important, but it’s not if you don’t prepare yourself for school. You can’t do anything if you don’t have grades. Younger kids look up to us, and they’re thinking if she can be a leader and do what she does, I can do it, too. Sports aren’t everything. You can’t revolve your whole life around that.
As a senior, with the state tournament about to start and the end of your high school career looming, is it a tough time?
It’s hard to think about, this might be the last time I’ll be on the court with these girls for volleyball. It upsets you because these girls are your family and you might never play with them again. I’m extremely grateful to have the teammates and support system I have.
CAROLINE RICKS UP CLOSE
CAROLINE RICKS UP CLOSE
* School: New Washington
Family: Parents Michelle McCutcheon and Scott Ricks; sister Ashley Ricks (20)
Student/athlete: Caroline also plays basketball. She’s a member of the National Honor Society, SADD and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She plans to play volleyball at Georgetown College and major in pre-veterinary.
Coach Michelle McCutcheon: “Caroline is very intense. She’s a competitor and she wants to win. It’s just her personality. She’s always been that way about everything she does.”
— Justin Sokeland