As a fifth-grader at St. Joseph Catholic School, Bailey Crawford was all about basketball.
Her friend, Sandy German, on the other hand was all about volleyball.
The besties decided to make a deal. “I’ll try out for volleyball,” Crawford said, “if you try out for basketball.”
German agreed, and Crawford joined St. Joe’s CYO program that fall.
No word on how German fared in her basketball career, but for Crawford it was the deal of a lifetime. Soon enough, basketball was in the rear-view mirror as she dedicated her time to her new sport.
Today, Crawford is a six-foot senior on the Seton Catholic volleyball team, hoping to get the Cougars back to the postseason after a one-year absence. Once the high school season is over, she will play for the Excel NW Volleyball Club’s 18U team, hoping to catch the eye of college coaches to further her career at the next level.
It is a realistic goal, according to Seton coach Kelly Adams, also the Excel club director. Last year, eight Excel players went on to play college volleyball, including four at four-year schools. In 2016 five Excel players signed Division I scholarship offers.
“If Bailey wants to go play college, she’ll have to get out there, make the commitment, keep visiting colleges,” Adams said. “She’s got good hands and good blocking skills. She’ll get noticed, for sure. She’ll be able to go play somewhere.”
Adams saw Crawford’s potential right from the start when Bailey’s grandmother dropped her off at clinics Adams put on with Excel NW Volleyball. “I rode her pretty hard,” Adams recalled. “But she kept coming out.”
Crawford then joined Adams’ 14U team and played her seventh- and eighth-grade years for both St. Joe’s and Excel.
“She literally taught me everything,” Crawford said. “Hitting, jumping, passing—she definitely helped me learn how to play.”
When it came time to choose which high school to attend, it was a no-brainer. Crawford lived in the Evergreen High boundaries, but with Adams having been at Seton Catholic since the program’s start in 2009 and Crawford being a parochial school product, she did not have to think long about her decision.
“My freshman year, for me socially, wasn’t great. I thought about going to a different school,” Crawford said. “But I’m happy I stayed. I would not have gotten the same education, the same experience as I had here.”
Staying at Seton did have some drawbacks. Until this fall the Cougars did not have a gym to call their home. They practiced and played their home matches at Liberty Middle School while Seton built its new 12-acre campus on 64th Avenue.
Students moved to the new building last fall, but the gym was not ready until basketball season, meaning the volleyball program did not get to host a match until last month.
“It’s nice to be able to walk into our own gym,” Crawford said. “But it’s also kind of weird that I don’t have to carpool to practice and games anymore. Those car rides were fun.”
The Cougars also have fallen on hard times on the court as well. The program qualified for the 1B state tournament twice in its first three years, placing third in 2011.
By the time Crawford joined the program in 2014, Seton had opted up to the 1A Trico League. The school saved on travel to much closer league rivals, but as the smallest school in the 1A ranks by a wide margin, it was going up against schools more than three times its size.
Crawford spent all of one match on the JV team before moving up to varsity. In her tenure the Cougars missed the district tournament twice and went 1-2 in 2016.
To get to the postseason this year, the Cougars need wins over Stevenson and King’s Way Christian down the stretch—and even then, they will likely earn only a play-in match with King’s Way for the league’s final district berth.
Crawford admitted it has been rough going so far, with two freshmen and three sophomores among the seven starters (including the libero).
“It’s my senior year, so I’d like to go as far as we can,” she said. “At the beginning of the year, I was like, ‘OK, we’ll just see how it goes.’ But we’re playing a lot better now. Our setting and passing have improved. We’re trusting each other more.”
Bailey Crawford’s Favorite Things
TV show: American Horror Story
It’s just so entertaining to me. The season of the hotel had Lady Gaga on it, and I love her. She’s so amazing.
Movie: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I love the whole time travel thing. And Harry finds some family, and it’s so funny when he blows up his aunt.
Book: The Harry Potter series
The books really are better than the movies.
School subject: Art
I love to color, and I’m not terrible at it. My mom and grandma were super-artistic. I just don’t practice it enough.
Vegas rolls and the seaweed and fish eggs wrap. I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s really good.
Cartoon character: SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick
They’re both pretty cool. I still watch it sometimes.
Crawford plays all three front-row positions for the Cougars out of necessity, but come club season, she will play mostly in the middle. It is not her favorite position—she enjoys playing right-side more—but realizes it is her best shot at playing collegiately.
This will be Crawford’s third year playing for the Excel NW U18’s. As a sophomore she was a little overwhelmed, vying for playing time on a roster that included Brooke Van Sickle (now at Oregon), Jasmine Gross (Pepperdine), Nicole Peterson (Arizona State), and Ashley Watkins (Montana).
Last year, Crawford started with Excel’s second team, before moving up to the first team midway through the season.
“Playing club with 18-year-olds, I wasn’t quite ready for it at first,” Crawford said. “It’s a lot faster pace. I haven’t been on the floor as much as I’d like, but just the practices, playing with a lot of girls who are at a higher level, have helped me.”
But if life works out where she does not play in college, Crawford has a fallback. She loves the idea of attending Washington State University with Kayla Beard, another friend she has known since fifth grade, studying communications with an eye on becoming a real estate agent.
Crawford would even consider walking on to another Cougars’ volleyball team. Call it a career coming full circle.
“At least I’d try,” she said. “What’s the worst thing? They say, ‘no.’ I’d just go on from there.”