Sunday, December 6, 2009

Team Celebrates with End of Season Banquet

In some ways it feels like our season ended a long time ago, and in some ways it feels like we just finished playing. Last night, however, we reunited to celebrated our season! Brian invited us all to come to his house for our celebration. What a spot! Yesterday afternoon we got our first snowfall of the year, creating a beautiful winter scene. Brian and his family had put up their Christmas Tree too, adding to the winter Holiday feeling. It was a fun night, and I'll summarize the awards below:

Contribution Award went to Natalie; Most Improved Award went to Maddie; Coaches Award went to Molly; Captains for next year are Jane and Lauren.

Everyone received a MIDD Varsity M letter and certificate of participation. In addition, we had several people honored by the NESCAC as follows: Jane was 1st Team; Lauren was 2nd Team; Julia was Rookie of the Year; Natalie, Whit, Reisa, Molly, and Mallory were All-Academic; Molly was on the All-Sportsmanship Team. Those are quite a few honors for such a competitive Conference. Plus, Jane had her other awards as well: All-Region by the AVCA, 2nd Team All-New England by NEWVA, and an Honorable Mention All-American by the AVCA. Those are some pretty special awards all the way around! Way to go TEAM!

It's hard to believe that our four seniors will not be with us anymore. Reisa will actually be leaving in February, after her FEB Graduation, and the rest will be in the Spring Graduation, which will come all too quickly, I'm afraid.

Each group takes on a new personality every year as we subtract the graduating seniors, and add in the new freshmen. Next week we'll know who some of those new freshmen will be when the ED I letters go out, which is exciting for sure, but it's always hard to say good-bye to the seniors who've added so much to our Program during their time at MIDD. With that in mind, we gave extra hugs to Mallory, Reisa, Natalie and Molly last night. Their dedication, spirit, enthusiasm, loyalty, and friendship have meant so much to us all. THANK YOU SENIORS, and we hope that you enjoy every minute of your MIDD time you have left! Thanks for everything!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jane is Honorable Mention All-American

For the second consecutive year, Jane has tallied some very nice post-season awards. We've already announced that she was selected 1st Team All-NESCAC, but now she's added a few more to the list! She was recently named 2nd Team All-New England by the NEWVA (New England Women's Volleyball Association), and also to the All-Region team for the New England Region by the AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association). Most recently, Jane was once again named as an Honorable Mention All-American!! These are all very nice honors, so WAY TO GO JANE!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jane, Lauren and Julia Honored by NESCAC

Jane was selected to the 1st Team All-NESCAC, while Lauren was selected to the 2nd Team All-NESCAC, and Julia was selected as the NESCAC Rookie of the year. Great job you three!! This is the second year in a row that the Rookie of the Year went to MIDD! Yeah! The NESCAC boasted seven teams in the top 15 in New England, so to have three members represented in these awards by the Conference is really great. They're in very good company with the rest of the names on those lists. Congratulations to Jane, Lauren and Julia for their very nice respective honors from the Conference. Way to go, guys!!

As we like to mention at times like this, we are a true TEAM, and individual honors would be hard to come by if we didn't play together like a true team. It's important and fun to recognize individual efforts, but we all realize that in order to achieve greatness, it takes everyone on the team challenging each other in practice every day, and supporting each other both on the bench, and on the court. Each member of the team should take pride in the achievements of these three, for everyone played a part, and that's what makes this team so special. WAY TO GO MIDD!! :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Two Seniors Recognized Post Season

We have two very nice honors to announce about two of our seniors. Molly was selected by our team to represent Middlebury on the NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Team. I think this is a very nice honor because I feel like our whole team does a great job with sportsmanship. This isn't something that we have to try hard to do, but it's more of a way of life. We talk about how we present ourselves before, during and after matches, but also just in our everyday lives around campus or town. To be recognized as the best on our team for that is a true honor! Congratulations Molly!!

Natalie was selected to take part in the Senior Classic, which recognizes the top 25 seniors in New England! This is a very nice honor as there are over 70 colleges in New England. To be recognized as one of the top seniors out of all of those players is a huge accomplishment. Congratulations Natalie!! There will be a skills competition and game among the selected seniors this coming weekend down at UMass Boston that Natalie will take part in.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

MIDD Loses Heartbreaker in NESCAC Quarterfinals

We had a somewhat interesting week of practice leading up to the NESCAC Tournament since we only had all 14 players one day, and that was Monday for our pool practice and film session. Despite that, however, we all got on the bus healthy and ready to go! We were focused on what we wanted to do, and that was stay at Tufts and play as long as possible. We liked our first round match-up against Amherst. We had split with them during the year, but felt confident going in that we could win.

We got off to a bit of a slow start in game one, but came on late to make that first game at least competitive. We then took control in the next two games and really looked pretty sharp. Our serve receive was better, and our defense was solid, allowing all hitters to get involved in game two where we had 18 kills and only 3 errors as a team. Game three ended up being dominated by our three top hitters in Jane, Caroline and Julia combining for 11 kills and 3 errors on 23 attempts.

Game four saw us get our middles both involved again, but unfortunately, we started to get blocked some on both sides, and we combined for a total of 11 hitting errors. I think we led by a couple of points for quite a bit, but then we traded points until Amherst tied it at 21.
Unfortunately, they scored the last four points to win that 4th game and force a deciding 5th game.

After having a possible record-high missed serves for a match, we actually didn't have many, if any in the 5th. It would prove to be a game of short streaks, that didn't end with ours, unfortunately. We got up early by a few points, maybe 4-1, and then they came back to within a point. We then held the lead at 8-5 when we switched sides, and then they came back to go up 10-9. We then got our lead to 13-11 before the house came crumbling down. We just couldn't seem to come up with a good clean pass to run our full offense, and they camped on our outsides a bit. We kept the ball in play, but couldn't seem to get that good, clean, powerful hit that we'd been so successful with earlier. Our season ended when, after a long rally that neither side was able to put away, their bigger outside hitter hit off our block and out of play for match point.

All in all, we did have some fabulous efforts, despite the heartbreaking nature of the loss. Jane had to sit out of practice on Thursday, and bounced right back to have an amazing match. She had a match high 23 kills, 15 digs, 2 solo blocks (VERY nice!), 2 assist blocks, and two service aces. Other highlights in the stats column were Caroline's digs at 27, Natalie's 18 digs, Lauren's 56 assists, and 12 digs, and Elissa's three blocks and a service ace.

One of the highlights that won't show up anywhere unless you were there to watch was the play of senior Mallory White. Mallory didn't play a lot this year, but every chance she got, she came in and passed everything right to the target, and was poised and solid. Friday night was no exception. Mallory was composed, and came in and gave us a lift in the 2nd game that turned things around for us. We then used her to serve and play through the back row for the rest of the match, and it gave us a different look for serve receive that really gave us a boost, not to mention some of her great defensive plays. Amherst had been serving Natalie a lot, and giving her a rest in the back row forced them to find someone else to serve to; although, Natalie's defense was stellar all night!

On the serving note, we couldn't seem to find a good rhythm serving tonight. We've been a pretty good serving team all season, but for some reason we didn't seem to have the groove Friday night. We did manage 9 service aces, but we also had a lot of errors, and couldn't seem to hit our spots that often. I looked at Brian, who calls the serves, and I finally had to ask, "who are you asking them to serve to?!" He calmly replied, "Not where they're serving." To Amherst's credit, I think they outplayed us down the stretch, and that's more a credit to them than a knock on us.

I can't quite describe the horrible pit left in my stomach after a match like that, and I've only experienced a loss like that maybe one other time in my coaching career. Afterward, when the team was stretching and talking with parents and what not, I heard Jane's aunt telling some of the girls to keep their heads held high, and to remember that this one match doesn't define us as a team. She said we had a great season, and we should all be proud of that! That is the truth, as hard as it was to focus on that in that moment, that is the truth. We did have a great season, and we had a lot of fun, and quite a lot of us will be back again next year. Each team takes on a slightly different personality, and we'll certainly miss our four seniors, and that's part of what makes it so hard at the time. It seemed that this was the time, this was the team. Now, we'll have to bring that passion and determination into next year's season!

After the match, my cell phone rang, and it was Reisa calling from CA. I didn't really want to pick it up and tell her her career was over. She'd already had her own heartbreaking decision when she went to interview for a job with the GAP Company on Thursday and Friday in San Fransisco. She's our only Feb, and that means that in a couple of months, she'll be out in the "real world" looking for a job. She'd been through several interviews, and this was the final, personal inteview, and she needed to be there, and we all knew that, even if she wasn't sure about it. If she gets the job, I think we'll all take some pride in that! :) She took the red-eye that night, and joined us at the hotel for breakfast and the bus-ride home.

And, Whit, after missing both Wed. and Thursday with the flu and fever, came back and played her heart out, as did the rest of the team. Julia and Caitlin did everything we'd asked them to do, and everyone on the bench helped us stay motivated and stick to our game plan, and keep the huddles calm, positive and controlled, which was great.

Now, it's only Sunday, so the reality of not having practice any more hasn't quite set in yet, but I imagine in the next couple of days, it'll start to feel real, and I'll have to move on, as always. I watched the NESCAC Championship as Williams defeated Tufts in three straight after a thrilling, and somewhat stressful (even watching on the computer), back and forth 3rd game. I will miss seeing everyone in practice, but we'll plan some community service projects, and some fun get-togethers, and that will be something else to look forward to. I also look forward to seeing team members take part in some of their other activities, like Elissa playing basketball, or Natalie trying out for Riddim, or Mallory singing with the Mischords. Who knows, I may even try to run part of the TAM with Molly, and a few others. I'll try to keep posting our events and get-togethers here on the Blog, but not quite as often as during the season. Thank you to all of our super-supportive parents and other fans. THANK YOU!! The positive support really means a lot to all of us.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

MIDD Wins Last Two--Seeded 4th for NESCAC's

It was balmy and windy on Halloween when we finished out our season with two wins. That ended our regular season at 20-5, which is our best finish in many years! Brian says he's never had a record like that, and this is his 6th year, so there you go. After possibly our worst practice all year on Friday night, we ate and loaded the bus to head for Hamilton. There was some pretty heavy NESCAC action that night that we were catching wind of on our way. Underdogs were winning, and seedings were starting to shake up. It was very fun to hear the scores, and start to think about the possible scenarios, but we also knew we needed to stay focused on our task ahead--winning our last two matches against both Colby and Bates.

Colby was our first match, and they didn't give us much trouble. Sarah and Mallory played for two games in place of Caroline, and it was as if nothing had changed in our offense or defense, which is a fantastic occurrence at this point in the season. Both players stepped in and did a great job, and we cruised past Colby in three straight. Julia also had a wonderful match with 12 kills, no errors, on 20 swings. She was untouchable!

Sarah's parents brought us lunch, which was great. No early morning trip to the grocery store, which is always a nice treat for me. The food was great, and always something different when new people bring the lunch. It was much enjoyed by all of us, and they had Halloween plates etc, which was a fun touch! THANK YOU! We had great parental support, too. We had Sarah's parents and grandparents; Elissa's parents continued their NE tour, along with Lauren's (and Caitlin's--sorry, younger sis) parents. We played on the side court at Hamilton, in their field house, and it's big, and somewhat dark, and kind of quiet, so it was really nice to have fans cheering positive things for us! Our parents are great role models, and very positive supporters of the team, and we really appreciate the positive enthusiasm!

So, after our lunch, we played Bates. We had a quick scare before the game as Lauren got nailed hard in the face with a ball late during warm-ups, and her face was red and puffy, and her eye stung when it was open, so that wasn't good. In typical Lauren style, however, she shrugged it off and was "fine." She sure seemed fine as we took control of the match early, although the game ended up pretty close. We then lost the second game, and the third was extremely close, but we've been in so many close games that I felt confident. However, even though we were up maybe 22-20, they went up 23-22. Then we traded points until we finally won the third 26-24. That was a key game, however, and we downed them easily in the 4th. We pretty much dominated the game from start to finish, but Lauren finished it in style with four straight service aces to close out the match and our regular season!

Then, to top it off, the Barretts provided us a buffet dinner to take on the bus! Seriously, a total buffet complete with courses, and even a container of fluff?! What a feast. We were certainly well fed that day, not to mention the various Halloween treats by the parents as well. All this in the driving rain (thank goodness we were on a big bus and not driving vans). By the time we reached home at 8pm, however, it was barely sprinkling, and the costumes were starting to come out. Reisa finished her "monkey suit" on the bus--actually sewed it by hand--very impressive. Jane came to collect a few "workman" items that I'd brought from home, and there was a general excitement about the team for the festive holiday! Brian and I were fairly excited to catch a glimpse of our kids in their outfits as well, so we all headed off in our own directions once home.

Now, we'll have the week to prepare for Amherst, who will be our first foe to face! This is the bonus season that not everyone gets, and we're very excited, and motivated to keep playing as long as possible. This team is a special team, and we all just want to keep playing and having fun together as long as possible. We'll keep working all week, and see how long we can play next weekend. Each match we win earns us the right to play one more! Fun times!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Keeping Healthy, and Having Fun!

After many of our longer weekends, especially where we play 3 matches, we've started having Monday practices in the pool. Our trainer, Rachel, has suggested that this is actually better for the players bodies. If we have the day off, they will likely do extra work, and could be sitting for long periods of time, and actually get even more stiff. So, at this point in the season, we're looking to stay healthy, and keep our minds and bodies as fresh as possible, so we've been having "pool workouts," if you can call them that?! We do relay races, and have fun competitions. It's great. There are some real swimmers on the team, and we're even coming up with our own hypothesis about height and ability in the pool?! I won't say our "conclusions!" It's all in good fun, which is the main thing.

Sometimes we do "whirlpool" effect, or at least try for the effect. It's always fun to watch this develop! Elissa and Jane even tried pool volleyball, but with a water polo ball (?), which is much harder than a volleyball!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lauren is Tournament MVP--MIDD Wins Silver Bracket at Hall of Fame

We were the #1 seed for the Silver Bracket at the Hall of Fame Tournament this past weekend. For the headline, we won the tournament, and Lauren was named the MVP, and Jane was named to the All-Tournament Team! Yeah!!

We started off the weekend with a 5pm match against Mt. Holyoke, the tournament host. It turned out to be a pretty quick match that saw everyone play. Sarah had a debut in the middle so Whit could get some extra rest, and Julia and Caitlin set a 6-2 for the first time in a match this year. I believe that this was just the second time in Lauren's career that she actually came out of the game--maybe the 3rd time?! Afterward, we were actually able to go out to a sit-down dinner. What a luxury! Thanks to some parents who've been providing dinner, lunch and snacks for us, we actually got to spend enough money to eat a real dinner. We all enjoyed ourselves, which was really great, so thank you, parents.

The next day, we started off at noon against Westfield State, whom we'd already beaten back at the Amherst Classic more than a month ago. This match proved much the same as the one before, as we overpowered them in three straight sets. The finals of the tournament saw us play a Conference rival, Bowdoin, again. When we played them at home the weekend before, they won the first set, and then we won the next three straight. This time, we came out strong and sharp, and took the first two games convincingly. However, it ended up going to 5 games after our concentration, and our passing took a brief hiatus. We regained our composure, and our game, and took the 5th 15-10. One more 5 game victory under our belts!

A rainy, stormy, dark and nasty night to travel, thank goodness we were on a nice bus with overpowering heat! A movie and a half later, we pulled into Pepin, which was still rocking with the very end of The Roots in Concert. The gym was literally shaking from the music. Sunday was a nice, gorgeous Fall day off, and now we're back to work to prepare for our last three Conference Matches!! First up: Williams!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

MIDD Wins Tight 4 Game Match with Plymouth State

It was a great match-up between two ranked opponents in New England. Plymouth State has been ranked all season, and came into the match with a nine-match home winning streak, only to be broken on Senior Night. We showed some very good poise in the match, coming from behind the first couple of games to win each by two points. After losing the 3rd game, also by a very narrow margin, we edged them out by four points in the 4th game to take a somewhat decisive victory. They had a very quick, and powerful middle hitter, but due to our balanced offense, and tough serving, we kept them out of system more than they were in it. Lauren led our varied offense to victory behind some very solid passing by our defense, led by our two senior captains, Reisa and Natalie. It was a good team win, and it's always good to see the composure at this point in the season in these tight matches. Especially for a relatively young squad, that calmness under pressure could prove to be a real key down the stretch!

We heard after the match that it was webcast, as a few of the parents were watching it from afar! Fun to hear the stories about Reisa, the DS (Designated Server), and Jane Han-dell, and Caroline Cor-dell, both unloading from the outside. Funny night, really. One of the refs was from Iowa, and was very curious about Whit, since he rarely sees anyone from Iowa out here. Late night, however, as we didn't pull up to home until just after Midnight!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Well, I am supposed to give out the flowers on Senior Night, not get them! THANK YOU!! It's so great to have four seniors again this year. It's a very special thing to have four players all four years; however, this class is a little different than most. Of the four, each has had a different path to MIDD and to Midd Volleyball. Reisa, our "super-senior" was accepted to MIDD as a FEB. What that means is that she was really a part of the recruiting class before her, but didn't come until February that next year, and thus missed that first season of volleyball. As a Feb, she met the team her first spring and was able to start to get to know them that spring, but didn't actually try out for the team until the next fall, when she met Molly. Molly was a "regular" freshman, and has been on the team with Reisa for four straight years. Both have been ALL-NESCAC Academic selections, and Reisa has also been named to the NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Team. Natalie was also a "regular" freshmen four years ago, but we didn't know her then because she didn't think she wanted to play college volleyball. After a hectic club and HS tenure, she figured it was time to hang it up, but, in the end, missed it too much to say goodbye. She played pick-up with the team in the spring of her freshman year, and then decided to talk to me about maybe trying out for the team. Three years later, she's been a consistent starter for us, and currently is in the top 3 in two different categories of MIDD VB records (2nd in service aces per game, and 3rd in digs per game). Not bad for someone who didn't even plan on continuing her volleyball career in college?! And last, but certainly not least, is Mallory. Mallory transferred to MIDD after a year at Emory. She hadn't played there, but was very interested in continuing her volleyball career, and even though I was very excited to have her come to MIDD to play for us, I didn't think she'd get actually get here because we hardly ever take transfers, and hadn't taken more than one or two in the previous few years. Well, needless to say, I was proven wrong, and we did take several transfers that year, and, lucky for us, one of them was Mal!! That's how we have the wonderful, and diverse group of seniors that we now have. Thank you to all of you. You add so much to this team, and your leadership and dedication has been instrumental in the development of the Program.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

MIDD Sweeps 3 on Homecoming!

What a FUN weekend here at MIDD. Not only was it Homecoming Weekend, but it was also our Senior Night! We had appearances from alums like Karen Engler Bartlett ('95), Lexie Fisher ('07.5), Kate Heath, Olivia Minkhorst, and Josie Keller (all '09). Not quite enough for an alumnae game, but it was great to see them, and it helped boost the atmosphere in the gym knowing they were back in the house! We also had an appearance from our former "1 Fan" Susie Patterson! :)

After we recognized our four seniors on Friday night, our battle with Tufts began. The fans were packed in, the gym was loud, and we even had face-painting going on!! It was a terrific atmosphere! The first game went to 26-28, and even though that one didn't come out in our favor, it was a sign of what type of match it was going to be. Every game was decided by either two or three points, and two went past 25 to be decided. We were playing tough, and overall, we passed better, so we got to run our offense more, and that seemed to be the edge. We also blocked about as well as we have all season, which was great to see, and gave us that extra boost that we needed. Good timing there! Tufts was undefeated in Conference coming into the weekend, so we all felt like that was a great win for us!

Saturday brought on more challenges as we faced Bowdoin. They played Williams in the early match, so we got to watch part of that before we played them. They took a commanding lead in the first game of that match before losing in 4 to the Ephs. When we were due to play Bowdoin in the next match, Williams was to play Tufts on the other court. (They were the #1, and #2 teams coming into the weekend.) We happened to be playing Williams in Football that day, and suddenly, we hear a loud band playing in the gym only to look over and see part of the Williams pep band playing for their team right in the gym! It was hilarious, and we all enjoyed a little "football game day band action!" The band left, and the games began!

Bowdoin edged us out in the first game by two points, but we seemed to bounce right back and take charge in the 2nd game. They came right back in typical NESCAC fashion in the 3rd, but we were able to edge them out by two points this time, and then we finished strong to post a commanding win in the fourth game at 25-18.

Our final match of the day was against a struggling Hamilton team, and I think they were already done for the day. We were doing a great job staying focused, and we'd seen Hamilton hang tough with Wesleyan last weekend, and we saw them almost take a game from Bowdoin on Friday night, so I think we did a great job coming out strong and being focused on our task at hand--playing our game, and staying sharp. All the seniors got to play in that match, and it was fun to see them on our Home court for the last time in uniform, especially with some alums in the house and a lot of parents there. We had a great crowd again on Saturday, which was really fun for us all.

Needless to say, everyone had a very good weekend. I think Lauren did a wonderful job running our offense and leading the team. Jane and Caroline had excellent hitting percentages, especially considering the caliber of teams we were playing. Elissa had a very good blocking weekend to go with some powerful hitting. I think maybe Whit may have had her best weekend of the year, however. She was hitting and blocking and just was on top of her game! How fun! Nat and Reisa both captained the defense very well, along with Caitlin Barrett, and Mallory passed bullets off the bench in the last match which was really fun to see! She was right on the money with every pass it seemed! Julia has been consistently providing that extra double-digit kill leader for us, and frustrating opponents serve receive with her weapon of a serve, and this was no exception. I think she put a little extra muster on the ball this weekend as well, and she stepped up her blocking which was great. Molly came in against Hamilton, and what she added on the court is similar to what she gives us all season long--consist effort, and smart play. She may not show up in the stats that much, but Molly was setting her block exactly where we wanted it, and doing all the little things that help us to be successful, even if they don't show up in the stats. Great job, Molly. Sarah Studwell was the other one to play, and I think she hit .800 for the match. They couldn't touch her. Sarah is a very explosive hitter, and it's really fun to see her come off the bench and waste no time putting the hurt on the ball! All in all, it was a great Team Weekend, and a lot of fun for us all. Now we have to get back to work and keep the ball rolling!

Next week is a non-Conference week for us with a Regionally ranked Plymouth State team mid-week, and then the Hall of Fame Tournament next weekend before we play our last three Conference matches of the season the last week of the regular season.

I'd also like to thank all the parents for EVERYTHING! The wonderful dinner in Lawson Lounge after the Tufts win. Even though I missed most of it, it sounded like it was fantastic, and that is really special for the team to share that with you all. AND, thank you for all the flowers for Brian and I, and for everything you do for us. We appreciate all that you do, and the support you give your daughters, and the team. THANK YOU!!! I will post some pictures when I get some.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

MIDD Splits 2nd Conference Weekend

Conference Weekends are tough, no matter how you slice it, but we felt good going into our second weekend. We were to play the home team, Conn. on Friday night in the early match, and then have until Saturday afternoon at 1:30 before we played Wesleyan, so it was at least a good schedule. After our 5 hour bus ride down to Conn, we got off the bus and walked around briefly to get some fresh air. The warm, humid air was a nice greeting as the air had already started to cool off at home with threats of frost approaching.

Apparently, after we warmed up, we seemed to have left our game still on the bus, or somewhere other than the gym. Conn dominated the play from the very start. We knew they would be a tough serving team, but our serve receive didn't hold up that well, and our offense got off to a rocky start as we got blocked often early. We managed to fight back into the game to make it appear respectable, but we were behind from the very start, and always trying to get back into it. We were getting blocked, losing our hitters, and making errors. It was incredibly frustrating for all of us, our fans included (thanks parents!). The second game was worse than the first, and the third actually started out like maybe we'd found a groove, but it didn't last, and even though we hung in there for most of the third, they were up 20-18 and then scored two points on one of their servers after we'd both been siding out on the first serve for several rotations. That put them up 22-18, and we finished with a 25-21, 25-15, 25-20 loss in three--our first straight-set loss of the season!

At least the sun came up the next day! After sleeping in, and having a leisurely breakfast at our nice hotel, we showed up at the gym early to watch some of the early matches. We played Wesleyan at 1:30, and it was a typical Conference show-down between two evenly matched teams. We battled Wes to a 1-2 game deficit, only losing our two games by 2 pts. each, before taking the 4th game more decisively and headed into our 4th 5 game match of the season (but not having won one yet!?) This was a great test for our young team. Our leadership prevailed, and we put away our first 5th game win of the season, and now there's no looking back! Behind our main offensive weapons, Jane, Caroline and Julia, who combined for 23, 19, and 11 kills respectively, we finally felt like our offense started to rev up. I believe, however, that is was our blocking that may have turned the tide for us. We've not been that great of a blocking team all season, unfortunately, but in that match, we came up with 3 solo's, and 8 block assists. Elissa had a very good blocking game, but it was Whit who solo stuffed their middle late in the 5th game to really give us a well-timed boost. That may have put the score at 13-9 before we finally won it 15-12. Volleyball is such a game of momentum, and at that point in the 5th, which had been tight the whole way, it gave us a momentum spike that helped push us over the hump, not to mention that Caroline had 4 kills alone in the short 5th game.

Reisa had a great serving night, serving more times than anyone else. Even without any aces, she was keeping her serve in and in good places, and we were scoring. Julia and Lauren came up with some tough serving stretches too, adding 3, and 2 aces to go with their number of serves. Lauren hung tough with some minor ailments not detering her at all from one of her best defensive matches with 14 digs to go along with her 52 assists.

It was a very interesting weekend down at Conn as everyone split except for Hamilton. Conn, Wes, Williams and Midd all split with each other with one loss and one win. It seems to be shaping up to be a typical NESCAC year with everyone beating everyone else which could make the final standings very interesting. Next weekend will be big for us as we play 3 more NESCAC teams, leaving only three to play before the tournament. We have the week to prepare, and no classes on Monday and Tuesday, so hopefully we'll be rested and ready for some Homecoming Fun next weekend!

Monday, October 5, 2009

MIDD Splits First Conference Weekend

It was parent's weekend at home, but at least we weren't too far away. We had several parents there for our first weekend of Conference Matches, and we game them some good action to watch. We managed to beat a scrappy Trinity team in three straight sets, but it took a great comeback in the 3rd game to take them in straight sets. I think we were down 24-20, or something like that, and staged a very solid comeback that would see us win the 3rd set 26-24. We had some very solid serving all match, and our offense was pretty solid as well. They really didn't have an answer for Jane (17 kills), unless they happened to block her. Once she got past the block, it didn't come up all that often. Julia (.364) and Whit (.538) had very good matches too, as you can see by their hitting %'s.

The second match of the day was our re-match with Amherst, but this time it counted toward the Conference standings. We came out and took control of the match right away by winning the first two sets. Their libero hadn't seen us because she missed the last match, and when our passing was on, and we had our full offense running, we were finding good success. They ended up subbing out their starting setter, found a new groove with their freshman setter, and their Libero started to read our hitters more, and the match tightened up to a very even match that would go 5. It was a match of momentum swings as we dominated early, and they dominated late, but we both poised some come-back stretches along the way. We were down 11-6 in the 5th, and came back to within 11-12 before bowing out at 12-15 in the 5th.

Jane and Julia paced our offense with 15, and 11 kills, but Elissa and Jane had the stats in hitting % with .353, and .268 respectively. Also, Lauren had 5 kills on 13 attempts for a .385 hitting %. Lauren's set distribution was excellent, too, as she dished out 41 sets to both OH's, and 32 to Julia, and 28, and 17 to the middles. It was a very good match, that, despite the momentum swings, could have gone either way. A missed serve here, and a pass too tight there, and the timing of those big mo' swings both ways helped determine the final outcome. We'll be looking forward to a re-match at some point later in the season, but we have a lot of work to do before we start planning for that! We have another Conference Weekend this coming weekend at Conn (Conn, and Wesleyan), and then the following weekend we're HOME for Homecoming where we'll play Tufts, Bowdoin and Hamilton. Lots of fun to be had, so stay tuned! :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Midd Stays Unbeaten at Home

Our play was a little up and down, and all over the place on Thursday night as Norwich stole a game. The first set was lopsided in favor of Midd as they really had no answer for our offensive weapons. They struggled to return the serves from Julia, Lauren, Jane and Caroline, and often sent the ball back over on one. After easing to a quick victory in the first game, we altered our lineup and went back out for game two.

Norwich was not going to go away easily, and to their credit, they fought back hard, and started digging everything, and just keeping the ball in play. They tipped on us and caught us back on our heels, and also started serving us tougher, forcing us out of what we wanted to do. Combine their upped tempo with our mistakes and it didn't add up to a favorable game for MIDD.

More restructuring in the third game, and still quite a bit of fight in Norwich saw us pull out a closer than expected game before taking charge again in the 4th. Our middles didn't get too involved as Norwich used more off-speed shots, and were difficult to block, yet both Whit and Elissa had pretty good hitting percentage nights again. Our defense was also forced into a different look, as Lauren and Caitlin had way more digs in the right back area then most matches.

On the night, there were a couple of shining spots. We came out ready to play, and really took charge in game one. Then, we had a couple of seniors step up and really show some poise off the bench. Mallory and Molly came off the bench and really helped set the tone for what we want from our bench in games 3 and 4. That is what is at the heart of Middlebury Volleyball. We have plenty of things to keep improving on, and our goal is to keep getting better every day in practice to become the best team that we can become. It takes each and every one of us, and those two seniors showed a lot of poise and composure last night. Those home matches in Pepin are fleeing for our seniors, as the next (and last) time they'll play at home will be Homecoming!

Now, we're off to our first NESCAC weekend at Williams where we hope to get our Conference play off to a good start!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

MIDD Beats Colby-Sawyer in 3

It sure wasn't easy, and it sure wasn't pretty, but we managed to hold off the Chargers from Colby-Sawyer in three games. The first game saw us get behind 20-12, AND manage to get it to 22-16 before a sideout that brought Caroline to the service line. We went on to score the next 8 points in a row to win that important first game. They were really dictating the tempo, and were in charge for most of that first game as we struggled to get anything going. Our serve receive was inconsistent, and so was our defense, so our offense was slow in getting going. We also got blocked a few times and just couldn't manage any strings, until we had our backs against the wall, so to speak. I can't even tell you what it was that changed the momentum for us, but I think we finally stuck a couple of passes right to Lauren, and got a couple of big kills from that. That spurred some more defensive plays, which led to more offense, which led to a momentum swing that would see us pull out that first game in grand style. To go on a run like that at that point in the game is huge because a couple of mistakes from us and the game would have been over.

After that we still didn't really feel like we were firing on all cylinders, but we did manage to hold off a regionally ranked opponent (14th) and not let them take a game from us! There are certainly some shining spots for us, but we are keeping the bar set high for this group, and although we are very happy with the win, we are focusing on the things we need to improve to be the team we'd like to be. The comeback was a big test for us because we had to defend a couple of legitimate hitters, and focus to not make any mistakes on our end. That was great to see, even though we'd like to not put ourselves in that spot. We also were forced to hold off a late run by Colby-Sawyer in the 3rd game when we were up 19-8 only to see it get to 23-20, still in our favor, but they ran off a string of points to close that gap. Happy to have the win, and even happier that it was in 3 games. Thursday will be our last mid-week match at home until Homecoming where we'll host a Conference Weekend with Tufts, Williams, Bowdoin, and Hamilton!

We open our Conference play down at Williams this Saturday where we'll play Trinity at 11am, and Amherst at 1:30 pm. Big week for us, so we'll hope we can get healthy, and stay that way!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

MIDD Wins 2 of 3 at Amherst Classic

What a fun weekend for MIDD VB! We have been off to a great start this year, but we hadn't been through the really hard test of a Conference foe yet. This weekend we faced Westfield State, Amherst and Brandeis at the Amherst Classic, and got our test! Westfield was a tough match as they dug just about everything we hit their way, but we came out on top of a three game win, finding each set score get closer and closer. Three of our hitters, (Jane, Elissa, and Whit) all had great hitting % nights with only two hitting errors between the three of them to go with 21 total kills. Lauren had her typical night distributing the ball around, and making very good decisions. Mallory and Sarah came of the bench to add a new look for us. Mallory added some solid passing, and we got Sarah some additional front row time.

After that first match, we ended up at a familiar destination for dinner--Whole Foods hot bar! That's a fun eating experience for us that we discovered was close to our hotel last year. The amazing selection of tasty foods is fun for all of us. Everyone was adding things to their plate, and then weighing it to see how much more they could afford to add without going over our budget. Joining us were Jane's father, and Elissa's parents, so that was fun as well. We had more fans arriving the next morning for Saturday's matches including the Barretts, and Caroline's mom and sisters, and Jane's Aunt/Uncle etc, in addition to a few friends that go to Amherst. We had a great fan base for being away from home--thank you parents and fans!!

Saturday morning saw us come rested and ready to go. We beat Amherst in 4 games, and that was thrilling for us. It's been a few (?) years since we've beaten Amherst, so the team was pretty excited about that win, even though it doesn't count toward our Conference Standings! We had another good hitting game for most of our hitters, which was great to see. Both Caroline and Jane led us in Kills, but Julia, Elissa and Whit were all involved in the offense to give us some great balance. Whit, Elissa and Lauren all had good blocking games as well, which was nice to see. Their top hitter from the outside was hitting deep over our block, however, and really challenged our defense, but for the most part, we rose to the occasion! We tallied up a lot of digs, and passed the ball pretty well out of serve receive so we could run our offense. Oddly enough, the off-speed ball sent us sprawling on the floor more than anything. Always more things to work on!

That afternoon, we had to rebound from our emotional win and come back and play a very tough Brandeis team. Thanks to Lauren's parents, the team had a nice selection of snacks between matches, and got as rested and refueled as possible in the 50 + minutes between the end of the Amherst match, and the beginning of the Brandeis match. They blocked us very well, and so our offense struggled a little to get going. In this match-up, Julia was our main offense, and their block didn't get to her as she went around it in every direction. Caroline came up big with a ton of digs, and Reisa and Natalie both played great in the back row splitting the Libero spot all day long. Overall, our serve receive didn't hold up as well against Brandeis as it did against Amherst, and we saw our receiving errors almost double. Our only hitter who hit 100% was Caitlin...from the back row! She was two for two, which shows you she's on the ball and saw a couple of opportunities, and capitalized on them! Nice going! Also, Elissa had a 6k/1e/18att match, which was great to go with Julia's 13k/4e/35att stats. Our outsides racked up some good kills, but Jane struggled with the block a bit, and Caroline was aiming for the back line with some aggressive topspin shots that overshot just a tad.

All in all, it was a great weekend. We would like to have a few points back in that last match against Brandeis, but they were a tough match, and a fun one to play. We have another full week coming, with games on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, but at least Tues, and Thurs. are home. Oh, and by the way, great car, Joe! You look good behind the wheel of that car!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

MIDD Tops Union and Wins 5th Straight

It sure didn't start out like it would be a three game match, at least not one that favored us. Union came out very strong, and blocked pretty much every shot we sent over the net at the beginning of the match! We got down early, and seemed almost in shock at being blocked so completely. We hadn't faced blockers like that yet this season, and I think we weren't sure what to do at first. Calmness, and rational thinking fortunately came back to us, and we realized that if we could just get our defense under control enough to have our full offense, then we could at least start to challenge their blockers. That we did, and suddenly we started to get a few points, and then more, and finally we were tied at about 14. We only had 6 kills in the first game, but due to some tough serving, we forced them out of what they wanted to do offensively, and got a lot of free balls as a result. This helped our cause quite a bit.

Our passing was pretty good on the night, but in addition to that, the main thing that helped our offense was getting Julia involved. She was the only hitter on the night to have considerable success with 9 kills and only 3 errors on 18 swings. Both Caroline and Jane had near .000 hitting % or less, and Whit and Elissa were both at .000% with even kills and errors. In addition to Julia being able to get consistently past the block, she served them off the court. On the night she had 5 aces, but there were countless others that came back to us as free balls as a result of her serve.

Despite the great team win (we had lost to Union the past two seasons in 5 games), the highlight of the evening may not have been the win itself?! Lauren and Caitlin's mom showed up with grandparents (fans), and dinner for the entire team! THE sandwiches that we all love, and freshmen had already heard stories about! They made the trek to Union to see us play, AND brought us dinner! Now, that was something! We sat outside under the cloudy, night sky eating our picnic sandwiches on the lawn by the parking lot. As a couple of players commented, it was "almost romantic!" I don't know if I'd go that far, but it sure was a lot better than grabbing fast food on the way home! Thanks Barretts!! We're looking forward to the Amherst Classic this weekend, and hope that we can all stay healthy, both from injuries, and from the various bugs going around campus.

Friday, September 18, 2009

MIDD Wins Home Opener Easily

The team was very excited for our first home match this year. After spending last year in the Bubble, it sure was nice to be back at home in Pepin! We were expecting more of a match from St. Michael's, but the combination of us playing well, and them not playing all that well, added up to a very lopsided match. Not to mention that they tried 3 different setters during the match.

Jane and Caroline got us started off very well offensively, and St. Mikes clearly couldn't handle either of them, who had 10, and 7 kills respectively, while only having 1 hitting error each. We did need to dial in our passing a bit so we could establish the middle, but we did that and Elissa had a big night with 8 kills, and NO hitting errors. Maddie was holding down the other middle position with Whit out with a sore back. We need to get some timing issues worked out and then Maddie will become a force to reckon with!

We served very well for the night. Elissa finished out game one with two consecutive points, and then Natalie served out the final 5 points of game two. In the third game, Caitlin came in to serve when it was 11-5, and never left the service line. 14 points later the game and match were over. I'm not sure we even rotated around one full time in that last game.

Natalie anchored the defense for the first two games, and came up big several times. Just when it looked like they might get a kill, Natalie was there with the dig! Lauren had her choice of sets quite a bit, and ended up spreading around the offense very well with four hitters having double digit attempts (Jane, Elissa, Caroline, and Julia). Sarah had a short, but successful last game, and Reisa anchored the defense in the last game.

It was really fun to play well in our first home match, and even though the crowd came fashionably late, they were loud and rowdy, which was really great! We're off the rest of the weekend, and then we have a big week next week with Union on Tuesday, and then the Amherst Classic next weekend where we'll face Westfield St., Amherst, and Brandeis.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Opening Weekend a Success. Jane named All-Tournament

After a shortened preseason, we may not have been quite as prepared as we sometimes are, but we at least got to take most of our freshmen with us! Usually, this first tournament at Potsdam has fallen on the weekend before classes started, and we've had to leave our first-years behind to register for classes. This time, fortunately, most of them came with us for what turned out to be a pretty successful opening weekend, despite some early season injuries and set-backs.

In pool-play on Friday night, the first team we met turned out to be our toughest competition all weekend. We were very well-matched with Clarkson, I think, but they were a little more game-ready. We looked like we were still figuring out who was playing what position the first game as they rolled over us easily 8-25. That wasn't pretty, but we bounced right back in game two with a convincing 25-16 win behind some almost flawless hitting (we only had one hitting error in game two!)

From there on out it was nip and tuck. Our starting line-up included three freshmen (Caitlin and Maddie sharing the RH spot, and Sarah playing OH front row) Sophomore (Caroline), who'd only recently returned to practice from a foot injury over the summer and was restricted to back-row play only played back row for Sarah. In addition to that, Reisa was kept out with a tight leg muscle that we didn't want to worsen, and Julia had to stay behind for both a lab that she couldn't miss, and a bad stomach bug. Elissa, Jane, Lauren, Nat and Whit all pretty much picked up where they left off last year, which was great to see.

After losing game three 25-27, we squeaked out the 4th to force a deciding 5th game. We had some incredible performances offensively with Jane and Sarah both lighting it up with 17 and 14 kills respectively. Elissa also had a great first match with 6 kills and only one error on 18 swings, and solid blocking. Whit had an uncharacteristic 4 errors with 8 kills on 20 swings, but also had a solid blocking night. Overall, we didn't block their OH's as well as we would have liked. Our defense took a little more time adjusting to read the hitters than we'll want to see later, and our serving errors were plenty. With Julia at home, that left Maddie playing in an unfamiliar position at RH. All things considered, we felt pretty good about our first match.

The second match that night was a totally different story, all the way around. Morrisville didn't pose much of a threat. Everyone got to play, and hopefully worked out those first-game jitters. Once again, Jane led our offense with another 17 kills, hitting .520. She also tied for the most service aces with 3, and led the team in digs as well. Jane would go on to be named to the All-Tournament Team after Saturday's play.

Losing to Clarkson put us in the Silver Bracket playing the other two teams that got second in their respective pools. SUNY-Oswego, and SUNY-Utica didn't prove to be much competition, but gave us some great opportunities to really focus on what we were doing. They both lacked size, in general, and our hitters were able to swing away. We started to really dial in our passing, which was nice to see, and our serving picked up as well. Once again, everyone played, and contributed to our relatively easy wins. It's always nice to get a few wins under your belt, especially before heading into our Conference weekends, which should all be pretty tough competition.

We should be well-tested before then, however, with St. Mikes and Union coming up, and then the Amherst Classic the following weekend before our first official NESCAC competition. I think that once we get everyone healthy, we could be a very tough team, but we have some work to do to get where we want to be! Some fun preseason pictures should be coming before too long.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pre-Season Fun Set Tone

One of the fun things that happens during pre-season is that the Captains often take the team for a "conditioning" practice away from the gym. This year is was up nearby Snake Mountain. Despite the hectic Freshmen Orientation schedule, our freshmen made it on this jaunt on a gorgeous, sunny afternoon.

The team got in some relaxed conditioning hiking Snake Mtn. It's a high-reward hike because the view you get from the top is well worth the 45 min. hike up!

The returners had more leisure time during pre-season while the Freshmen were busy running from practice to their Orientation activities. Lake Dunmore, south of Middlebury is a favorite spot to go to the beach and enjoy the lake and the sunshine between practices!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Alumnae News!

It's always fun to hear from Alums, and pictures are always welcome as well! Not too long ago, senior Kate Heath was visiting her sister, Amy Heath in Washington, DC, where they had dinner with Lexie Fisher. Sushi, I was told, was on the menu. We've discovered that sushi is a favorite among many members of the team, so if there's an alum out there who wants to come back to MIDD, but you're not sure what to do, come back and start a sushi restaurant in town!! We need that here in MIDD, maybe even a Sushi/Thai restaurant?!
Recently, I've also heard from Georgia Jolink, who ran in the Boston Marathon recently. She was fundraising for an excellent cause, the Children's Hospital of Boston. She said that being a part of the Miles for Miracles marathon team was "really inspiring" for her. Here is a brief part of her account of the race:

"I was wearing a singlet that said Children's Hospital on the front, and before the race, I had written my name on my singlet and down my leg, so between yelling for Children's and yelling my name, the fans really helped. I never thought that people I had never met before could encourage me so much, but the barrage of cheering was almost constant for the last several miles.When I hit the "One Mile To Go" sign somewhere on Commonwealth Ave, I picked up the pace a little bit and just went for it. My legs were hurting, I was dodging people right and left, people were racing past me, the crowd was almost deafening, and once I turned onto Bolyston and saw the Finish Line, I thought about all of you and how the race was about something greater than just running."

Georgia ran into Lacee Patterson and her mom, who were both running in the Marathon as well, and they were able to share a pre-race dinner Sunday night, which sounded very nice! Apparently, Georgia and Lacee were very near each other in the final mile of the race, but I won't say who came in first...I will say that it was reported to me that despite a pulled muscle, Susie Patterson was still out there to finish the race--amazing, but par for the Patterson course, I think! :) Way to go all of you!!

Lindsay Patterson has been in touch, and is very happy working for the Buddy Program right in Aspen, and she is very active in all parts of the organization, which has been rewarding and exciting for her. She's also been coaching youth volleyball, and this is what she had to say about that recently: "I just started coaching my first volleyball team! I'm trying to remember how I learned to pass/set/hit etc. as I teach these 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. It has been really fun (and challenging!) as we are only in the 2nd week of practice. I have about 14 kids, which can seem overwhelming when I'm trying to teach how to serve and balls are flying right and left! I forgot that we learn the under hand serve before the over hand serve for a reason! Anyways, it has been fun to keep my foot in the volleyball world now that my "career" is over, and I do love working with the kids. So, Tuesday I'll be back in the gym!"
Karen Engler Bartlett is living here in town, so I run into her quite a bit. She lives in Cornwall with her husband and two children, Khalen (2) and Julia (5). Believe it or not, she and I both have children in the same pre-school! How fun is that?! Karen has agreed to co-write our letter to alums this fall encouraging attendance at our Alumnae Game on Homecoming this year, so stay tuned!!

Thanks for the updates, all of you. Anyone out there who wants to catch us up on your life, please let me know. I think I have other news from Holiday cards that I'll go through again and get some other alumnae news out there. It's time to reunite alums--so please think now about coming back for Homecoming next year, and stay tuned for our letter in the mail!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Nat's update from Uruguay!

Thanks to Natalie for keeping in touch while abroad in South America this semester! Here is an update from her, in her own words. Sounds like she's having an amazing time, but there may be more talk of futbol games than studies?! :)
These are excepts from her email:
"whatsup yall?! long time no talk, but Happy Easter! eat some chocolate for me because i'm really missing fatty snickers. i went to santa fe, argentina again with my family and Clare Zutz (a midd friend) and we spent the day at my gma's house in Sauce Viejo. we had an asado of course and played volleyball and a crazy version of poker called truco, that i still have no idea how to play. and we danced a little...[utube video available if you ask her for link!]..."

"life here in uruguay has been really awesome so far! my uruguayan family is turning out to be more than i expected. last saturday we went to the southeastern coast of uruguay (la paloma, punta del diablo, cabo polonio, and more) and got to see amazing beaches and hippies, which was awesome! we saw the one and only recycling can in cabo polonio where only 80 hippies live (sorry this sentence sounds awkward... my english is getting worse and i'm not so sure yet that my spanish is compensating for it...). but it was sick and if any of you all come down, we'll def go 'cause it's my favorite place so far in uruguay. our exchange group also got to go to the World Cup Qualifier game with Uruguay and Paraguay and uruguay won 2-0!!!!!!!!! SOOOO FUN! and i definitely fell in love with soccer, and #10 diego forlan who plays for Atlético de Madrid : ) "

"on a less fun note, i like my classes a lot (modern uruguayan history and democracy and dictatorship). but because uruguay has never been important in the world, i have no clue about what they are talking about. so i'm trying to read more about uruguayan history before i go to our 3 hr-long classes! yeah sooo long, partially because most of the time to say one thing in the spanish language takes double the time than it would in english (another terrible sentence--sorry). and also because there is absolutely no class structure and students talk whenever they want. OH and our classes are essentially half 30/40 yr olds and a few young uruguayans. so i havent had the greatest luck friending natives, but then again we've only been taking classes for 2 weeks! but the professors are incredible and pretty nice to us foreigners."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Whit is enjoying Italy!

Our juniors (or sophomore Febs) have been great about keeping in touch with us here at MIDD this spring. Here is what Whit had to say recently about her semester in Italy! This is in her own words, which is much better than me trying to recount her tales!...

"I thought I'd send an update about life in Italy...

So for the month of January, I just traveled a lot. I got into Florence January 4th after a 14-hour delay in Chicago (we planed & de-planed a total of 3 times) and went to see the David, the Boboli Gardens and mostly just wandered. Then I did a pretty whirlwind tour...I went to Paris, Edinburgh, and Copenhagen, and made it back to Italy for the start of our semester here. Since then I have mostly remained in Italy except for one weekend in Prague.

Ferrara is a pretty small town, where I believe there are more bicycles than there are people, but it's very friendly and not very touristy so we get a lot of Italian practice here. It was a medieval town, so there is a large castle in the center of town, complete with a moat! There is also a big stone wall that surrounds the old part of the city, and it's a great place to walk/ run around and see the city. I am living in an apartment close to the wall with an 2 roommates, one Italian girl, and one English girl, and I love them both! Our apartment is cute, small and cozy...and the ceiling of my room slants so that I can only stand up in the doorway, but I don't mind! I am most definitely very tall here...France and Italy especially...I blended a little better in Scotland.

In general, Italy is wonderful...the people are all loud and friendly, and they are serious about their food...they love pasta and pizza! Our spring/ Easter break is coming up, so we are doing a 10-day trip to Scotland, Germany, and Ireland!! I am soo excited to see Dublin and Galway!"

Monday, April 6, 2009

Clinic for Home-Schooled Youngsters!

Let me give you a little-known fact about Vermont and Volleyball: there is NO high school volleyball in the state of Vermont. I know, hard to belive. It's actually the ONLY state in the country without HS Girls Volleyball. So, on that note, we decided to offer a free volleyball clinic to local kids (boys and girls), hoping to stimulate some interest in this great game. We thought that we'd start with a small group this first year, so we targeted a group of home-schooled children who don't always have the same access to recreational sports as those in the school system. (Not to mention that our Faculty Affiliate has three home-schooled daughters who adore the team, and are totally into volleyball!)

We had a great time. Lauren and Jane ran the clinic from planning through execution, and got several teammates to help them. You can see that we lowered the net, and drilled the basics of the game: passing, setting, and hitting. They even tried to play a game to put it all together at the end of the clinic. It was a lot of fun, and we're anticipating opening it up to boys and girls from all over the county next year! Here are few pictures from our morning. (If you're familiar with the venues at MIDD, you'll see that this took place in Nelson, as it was still during basketball season!)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Two Sport Athlete: Elissa Goeke

Freshmen Elissa Goeke has been a very busy student-athlete so far at Middlebury. She arrived on campus in late August for volleyball pre-season practices, and shortened her Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks for basketball. Now, 7 months into her freshmen year at MIDD, she's finally finding out what it's like not to have practice every day! Congratulations to Elissa on a very successful freshman year so far! Keep an eye on her name in both sports in the years to come! I interviewed Elissa recently, and here is what she had to say:

C: What was it like going from one varsity sport straight into another your freshmen year?
E: Volleyball season ended on a Friday, and I knew the basketball team had a scrimmage on Saturday afternoon. I went to watch them play, but I didn't start practicing until about a week later. The biggest challenge for me was socially, because I didn't know the basketball team as well as the volleyball team. This only lasted for a few weeks, as they were all very nice and welcoming. I'm so lucky to have two groups of friends that I will always know I can go to. On a different note, I remember it being really weird cheering for the first basketball game because I kept wanting to say "Let's go Midd. Side out!", but obviously that doesn't apply to basketball.

C: What are you favorite parts about each season?
E: My favorite part is game day. The best part about game day is the short moment of time after warm-ups before the game actually starts. Especially during a home game, this time just feels so special because I have so much anticipation for the game. I've lost all my nerves during warm-ups, and I cannot wait to play. In addition to home games, I enjoy the periods during the season when I can just focus on playing and bonding with my teammates. During volleyball season, this was during preseason, and during basketball, this was after Christmas break before school starts and during Feb. break.

C: Do you feel that your height at 6'2" was a bigger advantage in one sport over the other?
E: No, but I think I've learned to use my height better in volleyball. That is something that I am trying to improve in my basketball game. I definitely think both sports complement each other. Getting blocks, for example, is my favorite part of volleyball, and it definitely translates to blocking basketball shots as well.

C: What do you miss about both sports when you're not doing them?
E: I still get to play both basketball and volleyball, but sometimes I miss the competition of the games and matches. I miss road trips and spending the night in hotels with my teammates, and I miss most walking down to the gym everyday and seeing my teammates immediately when I walk into the locker room.

C: What did you find was most rewarding about being on two varsity teams, and what was the most challenging?!
E: The most rewarding aspect is obviously having two groups of amazing teammates. I have learned to much from my teammates and coaches. I know in addition to the experiences that I will have gained from playing sports, I will have all of the things I've learned from becoming close with such great girls. The most challenging part is probably balancing sports with schoolwork at certain times, but it is certainly manageable at Middlebury.

C: How has being involved with two varsity teams affected your social life?
E: I have been really lucky socially because I had an easy experience adjusting to college. Especially for volleyball since our season was in the fall, it was so nice to have an automatic group of friends before school even started. This continued as I got to know the basketball team which was great. I'm also lucky because I get along really well with my roommate. She is an athlete as well, so we have a lot in common. It's really fun to get to know people on the various athletic teams.

C: What is the biggest difference for you now, not to be on a team this spring?
E: The biggest difference now is that I have a lot more spare time, especially on the weekends which is weird. I like having more time to do work since this semester is harder for me, but I miss not playing every day and not seeing my teammates as much.

C: What are you most looking forward to this spring?
E: This spring I look forward to taking advantage of different activities that Middlebury has to offer. I've been able to be a fan at several home games which is a lot of fun. I also joined the newspaper staff, and I'm looking for other ways to get involved. Once the weather gets nice, I also want to go hiking and do other outdoor activities that I was never really able to do growing up in a more urban area.

C: Have you decided on a major, or a favorite academic department?
E: I came into college having no idea what I wanted to study. Middlebury was the perfect school for me because I've been able to take a lot of different types of classes. I'm thinking I might want to major in Environmental Studies, but who knows? I've already changed my mind about six times. I also have enjoyed my two Art History classes, which I wouldn't have anticipated. The one I'm taking this semester is called Ancient Games and Their Meanings, and it's so cool to take classes like this one that look at very specific topics with a lot of detail.

C: What would your advice be to other students considering playing two sports in college?
E: Do it! If you like both sports, there is no reason you should have to choose. I would just say pick a school like Middlebury where you can play two sports and still focus intensely on academics as well. I think the balance here is perfect, and I couldn't have asked for a better match.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Nat and Mal Experience Argentina

Natalie and Mallory were together for a while in Argentina before studying, and it sounds like they had a crazy, and very fun time exploring and visiting family etc! Buenos Aires, followed by Santa Fe to visit Nat's family, and then on to Cordoba. A lost wallet; dancing until dawn; visiting family that Nat hasn't seen for 5 years; a dog named Jack Sparrow; futbol games--and that is no joke down there!!; awesome food; and sticking out like total Americans while just walking down the street are just a few of their exploits. Here a couple of excerpts from Nat's email:

"There are so many huge neighborhoods and each one of them has its own estilo. but one thing in common: BEAUTIFUL people!...i wish you all could be here to see all of these things with me because everything is amazing! but even more amazing... is the night life and of course, fútbol!...the best thing ever [was] going to the boca juniors game! it was a whole day event too. we got there at 2 and waited for the game to start at 5 and then got back to the hostel around 10. waiting for the game was the best part! for hours we stood in the popular (general seating section), jumping and throwing our arms in the air chanting sounds. it mainly consisted of spanish curse words and DALE BOCA, DALE BOCA! i couldn't really understand any of the cheers, but the environment was so contagious that it didn't stop any of us from clapping, shouting, and whistling at the other team. once the game began, the crowd instantly hushed to watch the game.....

so, after buenos aires, we took a bus to santa fe where my mom's family is from. we had the greatest food ever! an asado from my tío ricardo in which i'm pretty sure we just devoured a whole cow, alfajores (cookies with dulce de leche essentially), awesome italian food from my abuela, and the argentine staple, yerba mate with orange juice (té de rey is the name of it) to name a few. we stayed in my tía pipis house and i had a painful love with their dog, jack sparrow

Monday, February 23, 2009

Molly's Blog--Fantastic!!

Molly has a Blog to tell of her excursions and experiences abroad, and it's fantastic!! You should definitely check it out for some good laughs, and some amazing experiences! Here is the link! If it doesn't link directly, just cut and paste it into the browser! Enjoy! THANKS MOLLY!!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lauren spent J-term in Africa!

Lauren spent J-term doing something a little different this year. She spent the month in Africa working for World Camp, an organization that goes into rural schools in Malawi and teaches things such as HIV/Aids prevention, nutrition, gender equality, environmental awareness and human rights. They spent some time in a "home-stay" with a local family in Malawi to get an even closer look at the way they live. What an experience Lauren had over there. Here is what Lauren had to say about her month:

"For winter term, I traveled to Malawi, Africa and spent the month living in a house with fourteen strangers, nine volunteers and five coordinators. Traveling to Africa was something I never imagined myself doing. We spent the month traveling to six different schools in the rural villages around Malawi teaching about HIV/AIDS and the environment. At each school, we taught a three day curriculum, splitting the time between deforestation and HIV/AIDS education. At each school, each volunteer was assigned a teaching partner, and the pair spent the three days together teaching a class of 20-40 Malawian Children. We worked with translators because the children and teachers do not speak English, their language is Chichewa, which is not a written language.

The language barrier was very difficult for me to adjust to and in many cases left me feeling very vulnerable. We taught every day from 10 am- 3 pm beginning and ending the day with songs and games. Playing games and singing songs with the kids was a great way to get the kids to open up to us. The kids had so much energy, but when we brought them into the classroom, they were interested in nothing but learning. They were some of the best behaved children I have ever seen. Teaching every day for the entire month was exhausting, but very rewarding. Our purpose was to spread HIV/AIDS awareness and hopefully decrease the spread of HIV/AIDS in Malawi by teaching the kids at a very young age how to prevent themselves from contracting the disease. Although we were unable to see immediate improvements and results from our work, we can only hope that the information we taught them will be helpful and make an everlasting impact. The things I experienced in Africa are unforgettable and will impact me for the rest of my life. "