When Justin Sharfenaker gets to Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, a few months from now, his plan is to study psychology so that he can take a path possibly toward understanding why people -- and even criminals -- make the decisions that they do.
Being "keen to people's emotions" also has helped the Briggs High School senior when he's competing for the Bruins' boys volleyball team.
"If you're on your game and you're in (your opponents') head, it can mess them up and they might perform a little differently," Sharfenaker said. "Your body language can affect how they see you. Let's say we come out and we're pumped up and we're excited to win. (Our opponent) might (think) this team is serious and get kind of scared."
Aside from his mental approach to the game, Sharfenaker stands 6-foot-5 and has an imposing left-handed power swing. The fact that he's one of the few players from the City League with extensive club experience makes him stand out even more.
A club competitor since age 10, Sharfenaker plays for Vanguard Volleyball Club's 18-1 Gold Webb team, which is considered its highest-caliber team and has competed at the USA Boys Junior National level.
Among his teammates are Hilliard Darby junior setter and Ohio State commit Noah Platfoot and two others who have committed to Lincoln Memorial, Hilliard Bradley senior Attia Soliman and Hudson senior Matt Gentry.
Lincoln Memorial is a Division II program but has played nationally ranked Division I programs such as Hawaii and Ohio State this season.
Sharfenaker and Gentry were named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason all-American watch for high school seniors.
"I started with Vanguard when I was really young and I couldn't have chosen a better club to play with," Sharfenaker said. "They're amazing. It's helped a lot. The more you play with them, the more your mindset changes. We're all so different, yet we all work together for the same goal. We're all one team and we're all trying to be our best. We're all here for the love of the game."
Sharfenaker has always played right-side hitter at the club level and projects to play that position collegiately. He has played right-side hitter and outside hitter for the Bruins and has been at the center of opposing coaches' game plans since becoming a part of Briggs' inaugural team as a sophomore in 2017.
Briggs has just one other player with experience outside of high school in senior setter Solomon Overla, who plays for one of Vanguard's other teams.
After going 14-8 a year ago in their first season under coach Herb Sharfenaker, Justin's father, the Bruins went 2-1 in a tournament April 13 at Olentangy Orange and were 10-3 overall before facing New Albany on April 15.
Briggs was 4-0 in the City League before facing Northland on April 16. The only other City schools that are competing in the sport are Beechcroft, Eastmoor Academy and Whetstone.
Sharfenaker had 14 kills in a 26-24, 25-19, 25-20 loss to Watterson on March 27 despite often being triple-blocked defensively. On March 30, he had 26 kills in a 16-25, 25-16, 25-22 win over Chillicothe, which won eight of its first 12 matches.
Sharfenaker averages nearly 15 kills per match and consistently serves at 65 mph, according to his father.
Herb Sharfenaker played intramural volleyball at Rio Grande and also coaches the Briggs girls team. He formerly coached baseball at Eastmoor and his alma mater, Ready, and softball at Briggs.
The other seniors for the defending City champion Bruins are Brian Haag (middle hitter/outside hitter), Quinten Johnston (outside hitter), Alvin Lucky (middle hitter) and Bryan Munoz (defensive specialist/libero).
"It was hard for me being out with the softball team, and I just made my mind up that I didn't want to miss (Justin's) games," coach Sharfenaker said. "The coaches would see how he could easily get frustrated on the court after playing with a high-level national team, but they loved how he's worked with his teammates (at Briggs). He helps them on the court.
"We're playing really well right now. I have 10 kids out of 16 that only play volleyball. I've had kids that have bought into this."
Cougars tennis team off to strong start
The Beechcroft boys tennis team was 8-0 overall and 2-0 in the City League-North Division before facing Whetstone on April 16.
Last season, the Cougars went 2-2 in the City-North to finish third behind Whetstone (4-0) and Centennial (3-1). It was the second consecutive league title for the Braves.
Beechcroft competed in the City League Coaches tournament on April 15 and 17 and concludes league action Thursday, April 18, at home against Centennial.
"This could be a really good year for us," coach Daphne Hess said. "(This is) our biggest week. We have a chance to come out on top (in the City-North), which would be our first time."
The Cougars have six seniors among their top seven players, including Henry Bright at first singles. Bright played second singles last season.
Seniors Ali Mojtabaei and Sam Kyereh are at second and third singles, respectively, while senior Andrew Zigarevich and junior Maxime Ngoupa are at first doubles and seniors Louis Ghazazwah and Gideon Adjei are playing second doubles.
Others on the team include senior Nina Goldsmith and junior Mohamed Kargbo.
"It's a very old team this year," Hess said. "When they were young, a lot of them said, 'Wait until we're seniors, Mrs. Hess,' and we've hit that."
Brookhaven's Lee named to Hall of Fame
Former Brookhaven High School girls basketball coach Reggie Lee will be inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame on May 18 at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus.
A graduate of Columbus East and Central State, Lee went 515-157 as the Bearcats' coach from 1981-2011.
"I'm extremely proud, but this is a Brookhaven award because it epitomizes the culture that the school represents in all of our programs," Lee said. "The hard work of our athletes, the support of our parents, the support of our administrators, the push from our teachers and the love from our fans, our coaching staff was one, and we fed off each other. I was coach on paper."
During his tenue, Brookhaven earned 11 City League championships and seven district titles and made two state tournament appearances, including winning the Division I title and going 28-0 in 1996.
Helen Darling, who played for Penn State and for 10 seasons in the WNBA, was on the state title team. Lee was named state Coach of the Year that season.
In 2003, with Division I state Player of the Year Brittany Hunter leading the way, the Bearcats lost in a state semifinal and finished 21-6. Hunter went on to play for Duke and Connecticut.
Lee served as an assistant this past winter for the Africentric girls team, which won its second consecutive Division III state championship.