Staci Scholl has earned an all-expense paid ticket to college thanks to her athletic and academic excellence.
During commencement exercises May 22, the Payson High School 2004 graduate learned she was the recipient of a Tonto Apache Tribe one-year full-ride scholarship.
Earlier, Scholl received a volleyball scholarship from Phoenix South Mountain Community College.
To be eligible for the tribe scholarship, Scholl had to submit her school transcripts, three letters of recommendation and write an essay.
According to Tonto Apache Scholarship committee member Kathy Hinton, Scholl's academic credentials were impressive. In the graduating class of 196 students, Scholl ranked fifth taking rigorous advanced placement classes.
In addition to doing extremely well in the classroom, Scholl was a three-year varsity letter winner on the Lady Longhorn volleyball team. Playing outside hitter, she was both a team leader and an all-around player.
She has played volleyball since seventh grade when she was a member of the Rim Country Middle School Lady Maverick team.
On the volleyball club circuit, she is a member of the AZ Volleyworks 18-years-and-under team.
Her Volleyworks coach, Larry Nakamura, is also her coach at South Mountain.
Since the conclusion of the 2003 season, Scholl has been driving three days a week to the SMCC campus to practice and play in scrimmages.
The extensive travel has not been a problem for the teenager.
"I got used to it after a while," she said. "It's not too bad."
Scholl, who is considered by coaches and fellow players to be a student of the game, is enjoying playing collegiately.
"I love it," she said. "But it is a much higher level of competition and you have to develop a good work ethic."
Her goal is to play two years at SMCC then transfer to San Diego State where she hopes to continue her volleyball career.
Eventually, she would like to play professionally overseas.
"Volleyball is a popular pro sport outside the United States," she said.
Academically, Scholl is majoring in Elementary Education and hopes to take up a career in teaching once her volleyball aspirations are fulfilled.
The Tonto Apaches also selected Opha Watahomigie to receive a one-year $1,000 scholarship.
According to Hinton, the tribe has been awarding scholarships to PHS graduates for the past three years.
Other winners have been Elizabeth Reichart, John Ewing and Katie Carpenter.
On the scholarship committee with Hinton are Cassie Johnson, Colleen Campeau, Tom Campeau, Sabrina Campbell and Belinda Guerra.