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Mary Star of the Sea High School athletes share affinity for teamwork, service

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Ally Spillane and Hunter Bjazevich have known each other since they attended Holy Trinity School in San Pedro, and have enjoyed similarly stellar athletic careers (she in volleyball, he in baseball and football).

Now, about to graduate from nearby Mary Star of the Sea High School, the two scholar-athletes will be taking vastly different routes collegiately-speaking (she to the East Coast, he to the Bay Area). But they share a commitment to helping others, especially young people, whom they have tutored and coached in youth sports.

In fact, in separate interviews, they even had the same response as to whether they might someday be interested in coaching. Well, almost the same.

“I can picture myself doing that,” said Ally.

“I can see myself doing that,” said Hunter.

Both have relished the opportunity to participate in team sports. Ally just completed her fourth year as a varsity volleyball starter, her third as an All-Santa Fe League selection, and her first as an All-CIF Division 8 selection in leading the Stars to their third straight league title and the second round of the Division 8 playoffs.

“I love being on a team,” said Ally, whose uncle Jim Spillane played for UCLA’s 1975 NCAA championship team and grandfather John Arndt is in Loyola Marymount University’s Athletic Hall of Fame. “We all support and pray for each other; we dedicate ourselves to the same purpose; we sacrifice for each other; and we give our best.”

‘No feeling like it’

Hunter started at wide receiver and defensive back on the football team last fall, and as a pitcher-infielder for the baseball team this spring he batted .300 at the plate and was 5-3 on the mound. His year included a 5-hit, 8-strikeout shutout of Serra and a 3-hit, 10-strikeout win over Lennox in which he went 3-for-3 and fell a homerun shy of the cycle.

“To be on a team — there’s just no feeling like it,” said Hunter. “Working together to achieve a common goal is the best, because you care about each other and encourage each other. That’s one reason I enjoy sports, because it pushes me to reach my potential and it increases my work ethic.”

Heading into his final weeks of school, Hunter carried a 4.5 weighted GPA, with a special fondness for math and government classes. “But I think everything I’ve learned, no matter what class, will be something that I can use in the future,” said the UC Berkeley-bound son of Joe and Michelle Bjazevich.

He hopes to specialize in contract law and sports law, and possibly become an athlete’s agent. “I’ve been around sports my whole life, and this would be a great way to stay connected to it.”

Ally, a member of numerous scholastic honor societies at Mary Star, is headed for Eastern University near Philadelphia, having been impressed during a visit there by the Christian school’s close-knit community, the opportunity to play volleyball and the strength of its nursing program.

“I’m hoping to focus on neonatal nursing,” said the only child of Kevin and Betty Spillane. “I’ve always enjoyed helping others, having done volunteer work with the elderly and various community service activities.” As a leader of Mary Star’s Squire Roses service organization, she’s helped organize outreach events at the Little Sisters of the Poor retirement home, including a New Year’s Eve party where “we served food, danced with them and had a great time.”

Such service she said, ties into her Catholic faith, “which plays a very important role in everything I do.” That’s something else that connects Ally and Hunter, who each appreciate the foundation they have received through Catholic education to develop as solid young citizens and pursue their goals.

“When I’m nervous, or things get a little tough for me,” said Hunter, “I pray, and that faith in God helps me get through those tough times.”

How many “tough times” may lie ahead for either of these young student-athletes, no one knows.

“Life will be different,” smiled Ally, anticipating winters quite unlike those spent on the Southern California beach. “It will be a change, but a good change, and I look forward to four years of new experiences.”

As does Hunter. “I’m ready for the challenge,” he said, also with a smile.

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