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Volleyball getting crazy in 2014

Thursday, August 07, 2014
by Mark McGee

“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do...”

-          Jack Kerouac

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It’s going to be one crazy season for the Lipscomb Lady Bison volleyball team in 2014.

The Lady Bisons opened the preseason Thursday with a pair of practice sessions. Coach Brandon Rosenthal liked the intensity level as the Lady Bisons took the first step in following the quote above for the season.

“We have to have the mentality of crazy people,” Rosenthal said. “I’m not joking. I mean it.

“We have talked a lot about why crazy people become some of the most revered people. I am not saying we are going to change the world but I think we have the mindset that we can change the volleyball world. It is fun to see them embrace it.”

Jack Kerouac waxed eloquently about the positives of being crazy; contributing to the Apple commercial that spawned the theme for the season. The players are familiar with Kerouac’s views on the virtues of craziness.

When Rosenthal, who is in his 12th season as head coach of the Lady Bisons, talked about winning the Atlantic Sun Championship and competing in the NCAA Tournament when he first took over people thought he was crazy. The team has accomplished both goals four times, but they have fallen short the last two seasons.

“They have no respect for the status quo.”

“It is not that the goals and expectations we have for ourselves are crazy, but what we will do to get there,” Jewell Dobson, the 2013 A-Sun Player of the Year said. “People can look at our team and our staff and say `wow, that is crazy’ and ask `why do you do things that way?’ because it is different than other teams.

“It seems crazy. We believe that in order to get where we want to go we have to do things nobody else does.”

While most teams would be pleased with a 23-8 overall record and a 15-3 conference record, the Lady Bisons want more. Much more.

“We are hungry,” Sophie Kellerman said. “We want it so bad. The last two years we haven’t had the victories we wanted and the endings we wanted.”

There are five seniors on the team with Dobson, Lauren Ford and Kellerman serving as captains.

“Lauren drives the ship,” Rosenthal said. “She is the straw that stirs the drink in a very blue-collar, I want this more than anything, type of way.

“Then there is Jewell who has really come into her own. And Sophie plays with such a confidence.”

Two juniors are also setting the tone - Bri McCombs, the 2013 A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year, and Brittnay Estes.

“Bri brings a craziness to the game,” Rosenthal said. “And then you have to talk about Brittnay. She is a fire starter.  She is the one who is going to light the match and blow the roof off of the season.”

 “They are the ones who see things differently.”

All of the players were in classes in July and went through conditioning workouts on their own. Ford thinks the time together will pay dividends.

“We played together informally three or four times a week and lifted weights five times a week while a lot of teams take that time off,” Ford said. “That was a crazy thing having all our players want to work together on their own.

“We got hours of extra reps individually without the coaches there. We weren’t required to do it. We did it because we wanted to do it. We want to do the extra work to make us go the extra mile in November.”

Kellerman stressed everyone on the team has bought into the theme of this season.

“It was kind of surprising how everyone bought into it,” Kellerman said. “It didn’t take too much time to do it. I think that is a huge thing that all 15 of us have really bought into it.”

“You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things.”

Kellerman points to the fact that no one is hesitant to let a fellow player know if something can be done in a better way.

“We are hard on each other,” Kellerman said. “It is constructive criticism…leading by example.  As seniors we have to set the standard. That is going to be huge for the younger girls.”

Ford stresses the team is tired of taking things for granted.  They want a championship ring. Nothing else matters.

“We don’t care if other people don’t understand what we are doing or why we are doing it,” Ford said. “Between the 15 of us we have set a common goal to win the conference in November and play in the NCAA Tournament in December.

“We don’ care if people from the outside are looking at us and saying `that team is not going to get there’. We don’t care if it doesn’t make sense to them or if they don’t understand what we are doing.”

“They imagine…they create…they inspire. Maybe they have to be crazy.

“The crazy quote we are using is an attitude and a mindset for what we want,” Dobson said. “It is all about the passion we show through our work not only on the court, but all of the things we do behind the scenes when no one is watching.

“We had a fantastic year last year. We did some great things. But that success drives us even more. We aren’t satisfied at all.”

“Here’s to the crazy ones.”