116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
TIPTON — It was not the plan.
When Avary Calonder entered her high school years at Tipton, she knew she was going to play volleyball.
That was understandable. Calonder's mom, Amy, has been the Tiger volleyball coach for many years and Avary had grown up on the volleyball court.
However Calonder's dad, Adam, is the winter club swim coach in Tipton and had been competing in club meets for several years.
When school started in the fall of 2020, three of the older swimmers — Maddie Swick, Zoe Stonebraker and Rhyan Hoefler — asked her to join the team because they felt they had a shot to make the state meet in some relays.
“I had always done volleyball and swimming since I was little,” Calonder said. “I just didn't think dual sporting was even an opportunity at the time. I knew I would always play volleyball in high school and I had never even thought of swimming.
“After freshman season, I knew that dual sporting wasn't just going to be a one-year thing anymore.”
Now, as her junior year is starting, Calonder has developed a routine to handle being a two-sport athlete in the same season.
“Avary has mastered how to motivate herself to wake up early, swim, attend school, then practice for volleyball or have a competition at night,” said Tipton swimming Coach Alex Gerken. “Avary's parents are no strangers to coaching sports and have been very understanding, supportive and flexible with helping to create a schedule that would work to balance both sports.”
A typical day in Calonder's fall schedule begins with a wake-up call at 5:15 a.m. for swim practice at 6 where younger brother Brayden (a freshman who will swim for Iowa City High in the winter) joins her for every workout. That is followed by school, then volleyball practice.
On nights where there is a competition, it is usually past 10 p.m. when she arrives home. And her academics? Calonder carries a 4.0 GPA.
On the volleyball court Calonder, a 5-foot-11 hitter, led the offense with 164 kills last year on a team that had no seniors and returns its entire roster for 2022. In the pool, that goal of making the state meet still is out there.
“I have missed state the last two years by placing 33rd in three different events (the top 32 in each event qualify for the state meet), including once by 0.01 seconds,” she said.
Gerken believes this could be the year where Calonder breaks through and earns a spot in Marshalltown.
“It has been a few years since Tipton has had a state qualifier,” he said. “Avary was close last year in her (100-yard backstroke). I think she has a great shot to slip into one of the spots this season.”
Not surprisingly, Calonder sees the bigger picture in both sports for her school.
“I want to help rebuild and grow the Tipton swim team,” she said. “We are the smallest school district in the state with a high school team and numbers have been down. We have a great swimming history in Tipton and I want to show younger swimmers that they have a great opportunity in Tipton.
“Another goal is to be a leader and great teammate on the volleyball court. We have great potential this year and could surprise a lot of people.”
Gerken marvels at Calonder's focus and determination to be at her best in both sports.
“I am amazed at Avary's motivation and dedication to waking up early to swim without her teammates, do the workouts and then go work out hard at volleyball,” he said.
College sports are on Calonder's radar, but her focus now is on her high school career where she also is a member of the soccer and softball teams.
No matter what her future holds, Gerken knows Calonder will be a success.
“This kid is going places,” he said. “The kind of self-motivation she has is not something you see in all athletes. Her grit and determination is something I have come to completely admire about Avary.”