|Senior duo experience unique roads to ISU volleyball team|
|Written by Michael Boyd, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Tuesday, 02 November 2010 21:30|
Seniors Tracey Lonergan and Amy Sesol have not had what one might consider a typical college volleyball career.
Instead of starting their careers as freshmen with the Redbirds, the two had to make several sacrifices in order to wear red and white.
Lonergan played on the ISU club volleyball team her freshman year when it was the first time the club team competed in the national tournament after a 16-1 season.
After a couple tough matches, leading up to the championship match, Lonergan’s team blew past Oregon to take the title.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” Lonergan said. “It was best of three sets and we blew them away in two. Our whole team really came together and played so well.”
It was during her sophomore year, when she sent an email to ISU volleyball head coach Melissa Myers, inquiring about a manager position with the varsity team, that the door opened to her dream of playing volleyball in Redbird Arena.
“Coach Myers came to one of our club team practices to watch me hit and asked me if I had ever thought about trying out for the real team,” Lonergan said. “I had played basketball in Redbird Arena in high school and ever since then I have belonged there. I will never forget the first practice, I was on cloud nine the whole time…it was a dream come true.”
It wasn’t until her junior year that the 5-foot-7 defensive specialist was officially on the roster.
However in the spring semester she injured her back and has been sidelined since. In the mean time, Lonergan has adapted into a different role on the team and does whatever she can to help her teammates.
“Sure it’s a different role but you still do as much as you can to help the team win,” Lonergan said. “When I’m on the sideline I look for little things in the game I can tell the team that might be hard for them to notice. Any sort of feedback they can get really helps so you try to do all you can.”
Myers is thankful she found Lonergan and gave her the opportunity to walk on.
“Tracey’s initial contribution to the team was definitely energy and work ethic in the gym,” Myers said. “Now that’s had to change after her injury and switch to being a great teammate and picking up things in practices and matches that can help another player. She has been a very supportive and encouraging teammate and has really made a difference in that fashion.”
Sesol, on the other hand, had a somewhat more traditional route to Normal.
“Eastern just wasn’t the right school for me, we weren’t winning and it just became terrible,” Sesol said. “I was actually recruited by and committed to another coach who left for another job right before I got there. The new coach didn’t give me the time of day and didn’t treat me like she did her own recruits.”
Forfeiting her junior year of eligibility due to the transfer to ISU, the 5-foot-10 outside hitter used the time to play on the Illinois State club team alongside Lonergan. The experience allowed her to grow both as a player and a leader on the team.
“I ended up becoming co-captains with Tracey on the club team and that really ended up adding a new coaching element to my game,” Sesol said. “I was responsible for running drills at practice and making the lineup for the matches. It was really easy because everyone who was there wanted to be. Everyone just has so much passion for the game on the club team it’s incredible.”
Although her playtime has been limited, Myers believes Sesol is a key component to the energy of the ‘Birds and demonstrates it with her hard work ethic in practice.
“Amy took almost two years off from varsity volleyball and at this point is probably in as good as shape if not better than she was before and is really playing at her best,” Myers said. “She’s really doing some great things right now, we knew it might take a few months but she has really hit her stride these past couple weeks.”
Lonergan, Sesol and the rest of the Redbirds take on the Southern Illinois Salukis Friday and the Evansville Purple Aces Saturday in Redbird Arena. First serve is set for 7:05 p.m.