Amanda Ostapow sounds more mature than wistful. The former Ward Melville High School standout has ended her competitive volleyball career, and she knows she faces some personal changes.
Ostapow, a skilled setter, played her last match when her C.W. Post team lost to Adelphi on Nov. 18 in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Tournament at Dowling College in Oakdale.
"This chapter of my life is gone. I have to move on," Ostapow said. "My whole life used to be focused on sports, but now I have to find something to occupy my time."
Now she can concentrate on academics: the C.W. Post senior will be a student teacher in 2011, planning to be a physical education teacher and eventually obtain a Master's in special education.
A former student at Minnesauke Elementary and Gelinas Junior High School, Ostapow blossomed into a volleyball standout during her three varsity seasons for Ward Melville. She played for the 2005 Lady Patriots, who produced a perfect record (34-0) and won a state championship. A 2007 Ward Melville graduate, she earned All-Long Island honors as a senior, when she was the team captain.
"[Volleyball] is kind of my passion," she said. "It's more of a team sport, more exciting ... When you step on the court, it is like nothing else matters. you focus on your team, the other team. It is not a contact sport, but mentally you can attack [the opponent]."
Ostapow, 21, spent her first college year at SUNY Cortland, but elected to transfer closer to home. At the C.W. Post campus in Brookville, she competed in 86 matches over the last three seasons, with two years as the team's primary setter.
"Amanda has been an amazing, player, leader, coach and overall person on and off the court," said C.W. Post coach Shellane Ogoshi. "She is an individual who leads by example and who her teammates respect and strive to become. Her wonderful light-hearted personality mixed with her athleticism, heart, determination and spirit has made her an invaluable asset to our coaching staff, the team and this program."
This past season, Ostapow led all players in the seven-team East Coast Conference for total assists (1,124) and helped C. W. Post build a 20-13 record. In her last collegiate match against Adelphi, she racked up 49 assists and 11 kills in five games.
"No matter what her condition – whether she has a sprained ankle, shin splints, back problems, shoulder issues, etc. – Amanda put her physical injuries aside for the betterment of the team and played as if every game were her last," Ogoshi said.
Ostapow can now spend more time with her family and community activities in East Setauket. A member of St. James Catholic Church, she has volunteered to help at the Special Olympics and events sponsored by the Three Village Kiwanis Club.
Ostapow did not linger on her last match – she has seven years of memories.
"I think it is a bittersweet feeling," she said. "I played four years [in college] and I got out alive. I am happy for the experience, but I want the next chapter of my life."