October 16, 2009
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Hurricane Sports

Volleyball rallies ‘round Rohn with Dig Pink

by by Tom Dexter-Rice, sports editor

When most sports teams begin a season, their motivation is a simple thirst for victory. But for the volleyball team, this year is completely different.

“Our relationship hasn’t really changed because she’s still the same person . . . we just have a stronger desire to win for her,” said Mel Weiss, ‘11, of head coach Virginia Rohn, who was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer over the summer.

Despite her illness, Rohn has chosen to continue teaching and coaching at Liberty, something she considers important to staying positive.

“You want to try to keep as normal of a lifestyle as you can because if all you do is sit at home, all you’ll do is think about things. I’m an active person to begin with and cancer isn’t the death sentence a lot of people think it is. I just live my life and volleyball is my passion . . . so it’s a bright thing to take my mind away from everything else,” she said.

Wrestling
photo by Mitchell Hanna
The volleyball team huddles around head coach Ginnie Rohn during their “Dig Pink” game on 10/6. They lost the game, but the everything else was a huge success for the team.

Team members are extremely supportive of Rohn’s decision to continue coaching, and to some, it’s been a real motivating factor.

“It really inspired me to play better for her and I want to win every game for her. I know she puts a lot of time into this even though she has breast cancer. . . . She tries to be there 100% of the time, and even though she can’t, she gives us 100% when she is there,” said Emily Werkheiser, ‘11.

Rohn’s effort is visible, as she has been on the sidelines of every game and missed just two practices due to doctor’s appointments. Even though she is at almost all team functions, two volunteer assistant coaches were added to help in practice as Rohn is no longer able be as “hands on” as she had once been and is now forced to wear a mask to avoid sickness.

The team’s support of Rohn extends beyond the court. On October 6 against Emmaus, the school hosted a fundrasing event for breast cancer research and awareness called Dig Pink. The fundraising totals are not yet in, but all can agree that the game was a success.

“I think it was so great to see all the students and faculty out, and to have the band come out all to support the volleyball team and coach Rohn, said Michael Wagner, Dean of Students.

Rohn also said that she felt the evening was a success.

“I loved the turnout. . . . It was kind of humbling in some regards. I saw a lot of students who I had in class and a lot of former volleyball players that I have coached that showed up who I have not seen in years,” she said.

However, Rohn isn’t the only one receiving the benefits of Dig Pink.

“We’re learning that our volleyball isn’t just for stats but it’s for a bigger purpose and we feel like we’re playing for something bigger than any of us or the team,” said Weiss.

The team has also been entered into a five mile race, and the goal is for all teammates to finish in under 40 minutes. While these events consume more time, they serve as a unifier for the team, according to Annie Burtner, ‘11.

Unity however, is something the team has been working on. They started out extremely well in the preseason, defeating Parkland and Emmaus. However, that success has not been carried into the regular season, where the team holds a mediocre 4-5 record as of 10/1. Many attribute that to a lack of chemistry.

“We were really surprised with ourselves when we came out strong and we got a little too used to it and we slacked in practice and we forgot what it means to be a team,” said Kaitlin Schnalzer, ‘11.

Similarly, Katelyn Strohl, ‘10, feels that after the roster was set, team members lost their sense of urgency and became complacent.

“[During] preseason we worked hard and I think we worked so hard towards getting the starting spot that I feel some of us don’t care to give 100% because of that fact that ‘I’m on the team, I’m not gonna get cut, she’s not gonna bench me because they need me,’” she said.

Losing close games has been frustrating for many on the team who say that the team can be great at moments, but isn’t able to reach a level of consistency.

“At points we are [playing to our potential] but it depends how we’re feeling that day. Some days we’re really on fire and can beat any team we want to, but some days we can lose against the worst team,” said Schnalzer.

Assistant coach Mairello thinks that their lack of consistency can be accredited to stifling competition.

We have a very competitive conference, I would say one of the most competitive in the state so every team is good. . . . Everybody else is great so to come ready to compete every day is very difficult and it allows other teams to pick up a game here or there or us to lose to a team we shouldn’t necessarily lose to,” she said.

Many on the team say that the best is still yet to come.

Mary Markovich, ‘10, said that they show “glimpses” of what they can be, but they’re still working to get “to the top.”
Rohn shares the same goal, saying that her only goal is for the team to play up to their full potential.

“I don’t ever put my expectations on them as far as pressure goes, but I always expect from my team to give me 100% . . . I tell them that at the beginning of the season. I can handle a loss if you’ve played well. The most frustrating thing for a coach is to see a team’s potential and not have them strive to meet that potential,” she said.

Fortunately, players on the team have embraced that mentality and for them, it’s all about working hard.

“I feel I should always give my 100% not just for her, but for the team as a whole. I just want to do well to make her happy and not feel down,” Strohl said.

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