This week’s guest has morphed into one of the best liberos in the state and is in the middle of having a magical season while trying to lead Boyd back to the playoffs after a two-year drought.
Please kick back and enjoy the McKinney Courier-Gazette’s Sunday Spotlight Conversation with Boyd star senior Darian Markam.
How have your work ethic and intense attitude made you a better player and teammate?
Markham: I love the competitiveness of volleyball. Playing club volleyball at MadFrog for the last eight years has taught me to look at my game and ask myself what I can do to help my team succeed.
I want to make an impact on the court by chasing down every ball and getting those near-impossible digs. Most people shy away from playing defense against hard hitters, but I love the challenge.
Doing all I can and being a leader on the court encourages my teammates to have the confidence that they can do the same and brings excitement to the game.
What did it mean to you to be named to the 2018 Star Local Media all-area volleyball team after entering your junior season without many people talking about you?
Markham: It meant a lot to me that my hard work was paying off. I'm not about having my name in the headlines. Don't get me wrong, it's great to have recognition, but it doesn’t change the way I play.
I give 100% effort all the time no matter who we play or what's going on outside the gym. The court is my neutral space, it allows me to express my emotions in a positive way.
While playing, I have one goal: The ball does not touch the ground without me throwing my arms out for it, so it's easy to shut everything out while I play.
Where do you plan on taking your talents next year to further your volleyball career?
Markham: After much consideration, next year I will be taking my talents to New Mexico State University. They were one of the first colleges to contact me.
I’ve been to several games and camps there and think it will be a good fit for me. NMSU has been one of the most consistent programs in the country for the last 15 years. The coaching staff is awesome, and I felt at home every time I’ve been there. I look forward to learning and growing my game at the next level.
Who has had the biggest influence on you and how has their guidance helped you to get to this stage of your career?
Markham: My biggest influence is probably the people that pushed me at MadFrog Volleyball Club. I have played there ever since I was nine and it is my second home.
The coaches at MadFrog have pushed me to pursue my dreams and to be who I am today. The teammates and friends I have made there shaped me as a player today. They have made me want to run into chairs and walls for them just to save the ball, just for one point.
MadFrog is my home and I am so proud to say that I have spent eight years there and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.
What do you and your teammates need to improve upon to be a complete team at the end of the season?
Markham: Our ultimate goal this season is to make it to the playoffs. We have all the pieces needed to reach that goal. However, one thing we need to work on is our consistency and maintaining an elite level of play throughout an entire match.
I think we also need to work on our mental toughness in order to be able to be more consistent. Finding a way to keep our rhythm and refocus when we get down during games would also help us.
I believe that effort, hustle and desire can get us to where we want to be.
How has your relationship with coach J.J Castillo has helped you become a better player and leader?
Markham: I think my relationship with coach Castillo has grown over the last two seasons. She trusts that my team and I will work hard and give 100% effort all the time.
As a team, we trust coach to prepare us for every team and every challenge we will face. She keeps us in shape for the intense, five-set games and helps us improve our volleyball IQ.
She is changing the culture of our program and making us better players leaders on and off the court.
How big of a deal would it be to end the Boyd volleyball program’s two-year playoff drought this season?
Markham: It would be a huge deal to me and my team. Freshman year, watching them play in the first round of playoffs started a fire in me.
Last year, playing one of the most intense games of the season then coming up short really made the fire burn brighter. It helped me and my team push each other during the off season and still now to finally get to our goal this year.
We have grown as a team and I strongly believe we are capable to make playoffs this year.
What does being a Lady Bronco mean to you and how much are you going to miss wearing that jersey next season?
Markham: Being a Lady Bronco is special to me because both of my brothers excelled in sports as Broncos. I grew up running ladders in practice with them then in the stands watching them play.
I’m proud to wear the libero jersey because it reminds me how much I’ve worked for it and how hard I need to work to keep it. I am going to miss being a Lady Bronco so much and I appreciate everything I’ve learned to prepare me for the next level.