Seniors Kristen Goley and Shawansee Swenson, the lone seniors on the No. 3 ranked Decatur Lady Eagles volleyball team, have defined their own leadership roles.
The duo might not fill up the stat sheets, but they bring the chemistry that keeps this special group together.
“These girls couldn’t be where they are if we didn’t have the leadership of our two seniors,” Decatur coach Claire Rose said. “They bring so much life and joy to the game. They are so encouraging and are the first ones to cheer.”
With a team that is loaded with sophomores and juniors, the two seniors understand that they are the ones the youngsters have to lean on when times get tough. Whether it is on or off the court, they make sure this team’s chemistry never falters.
“They lead our team even if we’re not on the court,” sophomore Stormi Leonard said. “Kristen and Shawansee are the best teammates we have. Whenever we are down or are stressing they are the ones picking us up and pushing us to win the game.”
Unlike last season, this team makes sure they have fun away from the volleyball court. The duo understands that bonding was lacking in the past, and that might be the one ingredient keeping this team from reaching the top.
“Last year we didn’t bond as much as we do this season,” Goley said. “Every weekend we have sleepovers and talk to each other on the phone. We are all like sisters.”
When they get to the court, Goley lets her other talent take over. She loves to cheer and not just because she is a cheerleader.
“I love cheering and rooting for my team,” Goley said. “I feel like it is my job to get my team up whenever they’re down.”
After 32 wins and only three losses, there hasn’t been a lot of close calls, but when there has been a challenging situation, the seniors have led them through.
In the Nocona Tournament earlier this year, everyone agrees if it wasn’t for the two seniors, they would have never pulled out the championship.
“Any of those games where we had to go to five or three in a tournament, we wouldn’t have won without them,” Leonard said. “They were the ones pushing and lifting us to win those games.”
The younger girls on the team look up to what the seniors have accomplished. Goley has been in the program for four years and understands what it takes to be a successful team.
Swenson is in her second year, after moving from Utah, and is back on the court after recovering from knee surgery. She had to sit out all of 2011 and was not cleared to play until this August.
“Last year I did not get to play, but they let me stay on the team and help out,” Swenson said. “I did not get to do two-a-days as much as I wanted, but they let me try out anyway. I supported the team ’til I got released and was able to play again.”
Teammates feed off the attitude Goley and Swenson bring. Their example makes coaching one of the best teams in the state easy.
“They play huge roles on this team during the game and off the court,” Rose explained. “They communicate with the rest of the team because they know my expectations. Then they make sure everyone else is following my expectations.”
As Swenson points out, it’s not just a one-way thing. The Lady Eagles all feed off each other, and that is one of the big reasons that this team seems to click a little more.
“We are supporters,” Swenson said about the seniors’ role. “We learn from them, and they learn from us.”
BLASTING THROUGH DISTRICT
The No.3 Decatur Lady Eagles wrapped up the first half of district with another sweep Tuesday. Decatur took down the Krum Lady Bobcats 25-18, 25-17, 25-16.
Cooper Martin led the Lady Eagles (32-3, 4-0) with 12 kills, four blocks, six digs and an ace. Makayla Mayfield had seven kills, two blocks eight digs and an ace. Caroline Lowery added seven kills, a block, and 11 digs.
Katie Isham recorded 11 blocks and a kill. Darci Billmire notched five kills and seven blocks.
Stormi Leonard handed out 23 assists and added three blocks.