Barrett Wingard has narrowed his college choices.
But to some, the list for the Dallastown High School boys' volleyball phenom might raise some eyebrows.
One school is an NCAA Division I power. Another is a private school that plays at the Division III level. And the third just has a club team.
It's not the typical list of schools one might expect for a talented senior such as Wingard. Still, the 6-foot, 5-inch, 240-pound senior is comfortable with his future, even if an injury a year ago may have played a role in it.
Injury: Playing for the local Yorktowne volleyball club team in February 2011, Wingard felt a slight pain in his back. It didn't feel too serious, though, so he kept playing. It wasn't until a couple weeks later, at Dallastown's volleyball tryouts, that he realized something wasn't right.
"On the fourth day of tryouts it was hurting to walk around at school," he said. "I couldn't even get out of bed that morning. I was really worried."
Wingard soon learned he had fractured the L5 vertebrae in his spine. He would miss most of his junior season.
His absence hurt Dallastown's chances of success in the 2011 season -- the Wildcats finished 4-7 in York-Adams League competition. The injury also had an impact on Wingard's chances of getting recruited by top college programs.
After some physical therapy, Wingard returned to the court late last season, playing in Dallastown's final four games. By the time he contacted dozens of college programs, though, it was a bit too late.
"Coaches already had their recruiting classes set," Wingard said.
Senior leadership: The Wildcats have had much success with Wingard back on the court this season. The most recent District 3-AAA power rankings has Dallastown sitting at No. 10.
A win over New Oxford last Thursday improved the Wildcats' York-Adams League record to 7-3. Should the Wildcats win their last regular-season league game against Eastern York on Tuesday, it would mark the most league wins for the program since 2008, the last time Dallastown qualified for the District 3-AAA tournament.
Wingard isn't the sole reason for the Wildcats' achievements this year, either. He is one of 14 upperclassmen on the team -- nine seniors and five juniors.
"We have a strong group of junior varsity players who are now moved up to the varsity," Dallastown coach Gabe Bishard said. "Then obviously Barrett's health has been a big impact. I would say those two factors are the biggest things."
Future: Wingard said last week he has narrowed his college choices to Ohio State (a Division I team), Emmaneul College (a Division III team in Boston, Mass.), and James Madison (Va.) University (which has a club volleyball team).
"That might be a surprise to most people," he said. "But I'm worried about school and academics first and then volleyball comes after."
All three schools have a good pre-medical programs, which suits Wingard, who wants to one day be an eye doctor -- he interned at Weaver Eye Associates last year.
The last few days football fans have indulged over the most recent crop of college phenoms turned NFL draftees. But the vast majority of college athletes don't go pro. It's nice to hear that Wingard realizes that.
He understands it's more important to be prepared for a future outside of sports.
Reach John Walk at 505-5406 or jwalk@york dispatch.com or follow on Twitter @YorkSportsGuy.