Winning awards is nothing new to Central York High School graduate Royce Clemens.
The latest honor, however, may be the most significant one of the bunch.
A two-time PIAA Class AAA All-State player for the Panthers, Clemens was recognized in the latest edition of Volleyball Magazine as a 2014 Boys' Volleyball High School All-American.
The magazine grouped players into three segments — first team, second team and honorable mention. There were 36 players in total — 12 in each segment — honored across the nation, with the vast majority of players hailing from California (16).
A Penn State recruit, Clemens was named as an honorable mention selection after leading the Panthers to the PIAA Class AAA state title a month ago. He is just one of two players from Pennsylvania — the other being fellow Nittany Lion recruit Lee Smith from Ambridge — to make the list.
"I am very happy for Royce," Central coach Brad Livingston said. "Personally, my opinion is that Royce was so honored because of the accomplishments of a very talented and high-functioning team. The fact that our team went undefeated in best-of-five matches, only losing a single set all year, with everything else being a sweep. The fact that we were able to win the PIAA Class AAA championship. And the fact that we gained national recognition due to our on-court achievements all paved the way for Royce to receive that honor."
Clemens' ability to play many different positions proved to be invaluable. It was that versatility that attracted Penn State, one of the premier men's volleyball programs in the country, to court him as a libero.
"There are two main memories from 2014," Livingston said. "The first is the look on Royce's face when I asked him to be the fifth offensive option while focusing on being our No. 1 passer. The look on Royce's face was priceless. 'Fifth option?' he thought I was insane.
"The second memory is the sheer joy on his face as we won match after match on the road to the PIAA AAA title. It was clear that Royce was enjoying the ride."
Clemens joins an elite list of former Central York standouts to be named as All-Americans in volleyball. Only four others – Rob Keller, Jeff Johnson, Jeff Kristick and David Moler – have won such recognition.
"It's a huge deal and a great honor for both Lee and Royce," Livingston said. "When Volleyball Magazine recognizes you as one of the best in the nation it is a very big deal."
Panthers ranked No. 2 in nation: While Clemens' honor is certainly high praise, so too was the entire squad earning the No. 2 ranking in the nation from MaxPreps. Just don't expect a legendary coach, such as Livingston, to bounce off the walls with excitement about something that is purely opinion.
"As I've stated before I think the rankings are fun," Livingston said. "Anything that promotes and brings attention to volleyball is good. This is such a great game, it's a shame that more kids don't pick it up early. That's the deal with California — early involvement, the beach game, top-notch club programs. Lots of teams, lots of players and lots of opportunities to play."
Livingston, who led the program to its sixth PIAA title in June, has a better idea of a way to determine national rankings.
"Are we the No. 2 team in the nation?" he said. "Probably not, but let's play. Perhaps someday we'll get a sponsor that will provide funding to bring (No. 1 ranked) Huntingdon Beach (California) to the Koller Classic. Let's play. One of the best things about our volleyball program at Central York is the opportunity our kids get to see the best players in the state while competing against Pennsylvania's best. It is always valuable to see how high the bar is set so you know how hard you have to work."
Central wasn't the only York-area team to crack the MaxPreps Top 25 rankings. PIAA Class AA champion Northeastern checked in at No. 17 after winning that program's fifth state crown.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.