Student athlete profile

Name: AJ Hood

Year: senior

Hometown: Hinsdale

What's your earliest memory of playing volleyball?

I played at Hinsdale Middle School and we had fun, but it wasn't great volleyball. Then I played club volleyball in the off-season and had fun - and I realized I was kind of good.

What do you enjoy about the sport?

It's such a fast-paced game, and it's really a sport that relies on teamwork and communication between you and your teammates and having good chemistry.

Is this year extra special after last season's cancellation?

It's amazing. We had just had tryouts when we heard the season was canceled. It was devastating at first, So this year, to even think that we'll have a state tournament is incredible. I wasn't even sure If I'd have a senior season.

As a team captain, what does leadership mean to you?

Trying to help everyone as best as I can and give out tips. Leadership means connecting the entire team, making sure we're all on the same page and working toward a common goal

What's your goal for the season?

I'm hoping for state championship, and I think we can get there. We're really playing cohesively as a unit. I think the sky's the limit.

What's next for you?

I'm committed to the University of Illinois, and I hope to play club volleyball there.

What are you going to miss most about Central?

I'm really going to miss the teachers and friends I've gotten to know.

Who should play you in "The AJ Hood Story"?

Definitely Leonardo DiCaprio.

Why does coach Stephanie Kaegebein like having Hood on the squad?

When AJ tried out his freshman year, he made the JV team and was an impact player and leader right away. AJ stepped up during the 2019 season when a starting outside hitter injured himself. Two years later, AJ has stepped up his game even more. His leadership qualities have never ceased, his high level of play is awe-inspiring to watch, and many of his teammates look up to him. I see AJ pushing his team to go to state at the end of our season and being a leader offensively and defensively on the court.

- profile by Ken Knutson, photo by Jim Slonoff