2015 MIAC Volleyball Camp Tour- Gustavus

By Kelsey Whaley

Stop number eight took me to St. Peter, MN where I watched a practice at Gustavus. Now, when Matt Higgins visited Gustavus for the MIAC Football Camp Tour, it rained as if there was no tomorrow. When I visited Gustavus on August 27, it also started raining shortly after I arrived. At least I was inside for most of the downpour, but I'm starting to think a visit from the MIAC staff is not good for the weather in St. Peter.

Rain or shine, nothing was getting in the way of Gustavus’ practice that day. Head Coach Rachelle Sherden held a short team meeting before having her team run through their pregame routine. Coach Sherden and her team were practicing as though it was game day, so it was nice to see what the Gusties will do once they start playing in games.

Thanks to Coach Sherden for letting me sit in at practice and for explaining the team’s goals and mind set for the 2015 season. Gustavus is operating a little differently this year in terms of motivation, and it was cool to see that play out on the court.

That being said, here are the six observation I made from my practice with Gustavus:

  1. Safety in Numbers- The Gusties have one of the biggest volleyball teams in the MIAC this
    Players listen to Gustavus head coach Rachelle Sherden
    as she explains the practice plan for the day.
    season. With 20+ players who can all play a variety of positions, Coach Sherden will not find herself short in numbers. These players can all play a role on the team in some way, whether it's as a sub or starter. Plus, Coach Sherden won’t be scrambling if any of her key players get injured early or late in the season. Even the first years will be able to step in, especially since many of them are on the same playing field, both mentally and physically, as the upperclassmen.
  2. Volume- With over twenty girls on the court at once, the Gusties produce a lot of volume. In their intra-squad scrimmage on Thursday, their cheers and exclamations overpowered the music that was playing. The players are literally a force of nature when it comes to their voices. Opponents and fans will know whether or not Gustavus won the point.
  3. One Day At a Time- The mentality of the Gustavus team this year is to live in the moment. They aren’t looking ahead in the schedule or trying to prepare for games that happen in October. Instead, they are solely focused on each day as it comes. The Gusties are also more concerned about making their own team better rather than worrying about what other teams in the conference are doing. This takes a lot of anxiety out of practice situations and allows the players to focus on the team and their own game rather than a far off opponent.
  4. Groovin’- This Gustavus team has fun. They are constantly moving and grooving to just
    Returning setter Marisa Morgan warms up during practice.
    about anything, whether it be pregame music or sideline cheers. Their fun, goofy attitude also adds to the live in the moment mentality the team has adopted. They have fun in the here and now. However, they also know when to turn the switch on. As soon as the ball is in play, the Gusties are all business, turning the switch from goofy girls into competitive volleyball players. And of course, when the play is over, they let out a loud whoop! and get back in the groove.
  5. Coachable- These players are extremely coachable and soak up whatever Coach Sherden has to share with them. She has their undivided attention whenever she speaks, and the players are more than happy to learn from their leader. They want to get better as a team and as individuals, so they listen to both Coach Sherden and her assistants. Everyone is listening and learning, but the first year players are like sponges. They want to embody the image of Gustavus volleyball, and what better way to do that than to listen and learn from the upperclassman and the coach.
  6. Late Start- Gustavus doesn’t actually start playing games until Labor Day weekend, giving
    Gustavus hitters run through hitting lines before
    scrimmaging each other during practice. 
    them an extra week of practice to work out any kinks still in place. Most other MIAC schools start the regular season with non-conference games on September 1. Not the Gusties. They won’t hit the court until the Labor Day weekend tournament in Platteville, Wis. While the team is ready to take the court and compete, they also appreciate the extra time to fix any mistakes and perfect their plays.

Gustavus will be on the road throughout the beginning of September. Their home opener is against UW-Stout at 1pm on September 19. They also host and play Luther on the same day at 7pm. Their first conference game is on the road against St. Kate’s on September 26.

Where to Next?
The final day of the MIAC Volleyball Camp Tour is sadly here. On the final day, Friday August 27, I’ll head to St. Olaf for a full day of scrimmages. The three teams I’ll be looking at are Carleton, St. Olaf, and Hamline. St. Thomas and Gustavus will also be at the tournament, so don’t be surprised if you see some familiar faces in video footage and photographs!

Be sure to tune into Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where I’ll be posting live from the scrimmages. Also, make sure to check out Matt’s Football Camp Tour to read even more about your favorite MIAC programs!

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