Indiana Daily Student

Young team bonds during 10 practice days

Coach challenges returning players to be 'positive leaders'

As the volleyball team prepared for its daily practice yesterday, it hardly resembled a 10-day-old team. Instead, the players sat in a circle and laughed like they've known each other for years.\nIn truth, the team has only been together since the beginning of the preseason on Aug. 15. This isn't your normal, everyone's-returned team. There are seven new players on the team and all are freshmen.\n In addition to dealing with the obvious being-away-from-home situation for the first time, the new players are preparing for their first collegiate volleyball match Sept. 1. Because the team has so many rookies, three may start when the team faces Cincinnati.\n "We will have freshman on the court at all times," senior outside hitter Amanda Welter said. "So they really have to step it up and mature fast, but they are learning fast and catching on to everything."\n The girls haven't had time to let nerves get the best of them. The team installed a buddy system for the freshmen players. Each freshman was paired with an upperclassman to show them everything from their normal warmup in practice to where the Indiana Memorial Union is. They also spent the first couple days living in the dorms with each other in order to get to know each other better.\nWhen the Hoosiers began preseason workouts, some new players were taken by surprise on how difficult collegiate practice is compared to high school workouts. The women were expected to run the mile along with various other workouts.\n"It was really stressful," freshman middle blocker Melissa Brewer said. "It was a lot of work, and the girls push you the entire time. It was just all out toughness."\n The team has had to make a few adjustments. There is pressure on the freshmen to keep up with their workouts and to make sure they can push to the level of the other players. Instead of just being able to do the drills, the veteran players must stop and teach the new players.\nWelter said the older players aren't able to spend time getting in shape but were expected to return to IU in top shape in order to devote their time to teaching the new players. The team also had to spend time making sure the freshmen felt welcome.\nThere is concern for new leadership on the team. When last season ended, the team lost five of its most vocal leaders, creating an opening for other players to step up. The team is expected to be led by sophomore setter Laurie Gardner, but coach Katie Weismiller anticipates all returning players to be positive leaders for the team.\nThere is a lot of pressure to stay on track for the freshman players, but Weismiller and the rest of the team are focused on keeping the rookies encouraged. Weismiller said she focused on recruiting players that could not only handle the pressure of being part of the team, but also handle the new independence. Weismiller said the attitude of the team is already promising, so handling the academics and extracurricular shouldn\'t be an issue for the players.\nAs for the freshman players, they are ready to get out on the court and show their talent in the first match.\n "I'm really nervous, because there's a lot of pressure," Brewer said. "I'm up for it; I think the team is up for it. We've been working really hard, and we are going to be prepared"

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