In the 1970s, I taught in Lytle, Texas and chose to drive the athletic bus for the Lytle volleyball team to various locations around south Texas. At that time, the team was a collection of fairly decent athletes, but tremendous young women. They worked hard, and I enjoyed being around them and their coach. They didn’t win many matches, but I enjoyed the time with them. I communicated that to the “coffee club” at the local morning hang-out, but the patrons seemed to care little. At that time, volleyball was a server-score game, and quite frankly, a bit boring.
Today, volleyball is a rally-score game, where a score is made on every serve. The game is much faster and much more exciting than the 1970s game that I attended. But what has not changed is the sportsmanlike attitude of the young women who play the sport. The young women who play are the athletes who we all cherish – talented, hard-working, and congenial.
In volleyball, the teams begin the matches by shaking hands. The matches end in the same manner. There is no trash-talking, and performance celebration is kept to a minimum. Thank you very much!
Tarleton is very fortunate. Coach Mary Schindler has assembled a group of classy, very talented volleyball players. Start with Hailey Roberts, a three-time all-American who was the Division II Player of the Year as a junior. Watching her perform on the court is an opportunity that few will experience. You must not miss this chance!
Then, junior Adrianna Knutson from San Antonio may well be the best athlete on the squad, but her role does not place her in a high profile position so she is often overlooked. Yet, she is another Division I talent that Coach Schindler has added to the roster.
Add-in senior Jordan Keamo, who is probably the best setter in Division II volleyball. A premier athlete from Hawaii, she is a gem on the court. You then add a complement of extremely talented young ladies, all who deserve attention but there is little room for mention.
Yet, their greatest talent is not on the volleyball court. All of these young women are great, young women. They are kind beyond measure, giving beyond belief, and humble way more than their talent would dictate. At the end of every match, I receive a chorus of “thank you for coming.” Geez, I think, “thank you for being at Tarleton.”
One of the greatest talents who exited the program is Stephenville Independent School District’s very own Katie Covell Fulton. Ironically, she is also a former player for Lytle (well after I left the community). She, like many others in the Tarleton volleyball program, has captured the hearts of community members.
If you’ve not done so, attend ONE Tarleton volleyball game. In an era that promotes athletes who are “all about me,” you will see athletes who are all about the team. You will be inspired, amazed, and proud. I am quite confident that you will attend another.
In addition, you will see a great team, with great athletes, who act as great young ladies. They will make you proud. Thank you, Coach Schindler, Katie Covell Fulton, Hailey Roberts, Adrianna Knutson, Jordan Keamo, and scores of others who demonstrate class, and show what it is to be an NCAA athlete.
Dr. Mark Littleton lives in Stephenville and is a professor of Educational Administration at Tarleton.