NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Lauren Ford and Jewell Dobson were caught napping, literally, when Lipscomb volleyball coach Brandon Rosenthal told them to come to his office.
“We both thought we were possibly in trouble,” Ford said. “We didn’t know what was going on when he called us over to his office.”
Rosenthal’s message was that both Ford and Dobson, First Team All-Atlantic Sun selections and AVCA All-Americans for 2013, were going to be attending the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team Open Tryouts. They will leave Feb. 20 for Colorado Springs, Colo., where they will live and work at the U.S. Olympic Training Center Feb. 21, 22 and 23.
“Brandon wanted us to have this opportunity to go to meet some of the best players in the nation and be under some of the best coaching staffs,” Ford said. “Because of the All-America honors he thought we deserved the chance to go to the national team tryouts.”
Dobson views the tryouts as a prime opportunity to represent Lipscomb volleyball as well as a chance to learn more about the game.
“We can learn so much that we can bring back here and use,” Dobson said.
Their names are going to be forever linked together when people talk about Lipscomb volleyball, but Ford and Dobson had different reactions to the news from Rosenthal.
“My initial reaction was not to say anything,” Dobson said. “My jaw literally dropped.
“I was just shocked. I was not expecting that to be what he was going to tell us.”
Ford didn’t think twice. She immediately responded “yes”.
Both Ford and Dobson admit there is a little bit of an intimidation factor to deal with.
“These girls are the best players in the nation,” Ford said. “To be around that group is an honor, but it is also intimidating. We don’t know what to expect. We have never done anything like this.”
Dobson found motivation in a tweet from Katie Rose, a former Lipscomb star and A-Sun Player of the Year in 2011.
“To be completely honest, I am intimidated,” Dobson said. “The first thought that went through my mind is that this is amazing. And then I thought `this is so scary’.
“Katie wrote on her Twitter to do one thing every day that scares you. I thought, `all right this is it’. It is scary and it is exciting.”
They both plan to watch the other players at the tryouts. They will be studying not only what those other players do physically on the court, but how they approach the game mentally.
“Like Lauren says, there are going to be all kinds of incredible players there,” Dobson said. “There is a lot we can learn from them technically. But it is also about taking that chance and going outside of that comfort zone to see what else is out there and what opportunities we could have. That is something I can learn from and bring back and share with the team.”
Ford and Dobson will both be seniors for the 2014 season. Ford will be interested in the leadership skills of the other players.
“We will see a lot of different ways of how people carry themselves on the court,” Ford said. “I want to see how the best players lead their teams and interact with their teammates. I want to take away some of that information.”
Rosenthal has no doubts that Ford and Dobson will be great representatives for Lipscomb. Billy Ebel, one of Lipscomb’ assistant coaches, will also be working the tryouts as a floor coach.
“This is a huge honor for Lauren and Jewell,” Rosenthal said. “We want to continue to offer this to our girls that reach All-American status. This is the best of the best. The National team coaches will be there putting them through the rigors.
“I think it is going to be eye opening. Not too many people get to stay and train in the U.S.A. training facility. They are going to represent their school, their team and themselves. The idea behind that conjures up even more pride. Both of them are up for the challenge.”