Of all the sports at Hesston, volleyball may be the most demanding: The two-hour practices, early morning lifting, back and shoulder strengthening before practice even starts, and midnight curfews before games. Coach Jessica Cleveland makes sure her players are in prime condition, which means they follow some specific volleyball commandments. Among them: Thou shall play no other sport before volleyball.
But since the announcement of Cleveland’s resignation last month, a few players have taken the opportunity to break that commandment and become two-sport athletes.
Freshmen Jessanna Nebel and Kourtney Cunningham, once basketball recruits as well as volleyball recruits, are two of those players. They joined the basketball team after a little prompting from women’s basketball coach Dan Harrison.
“I always knew I wanted to play volleyball in college,” Nebel said. “I played both volleyball and basketball in high school, but knew I wouldn’t be able to do that here because of spring training. When I got the basketball offer, I talked to my assistant coach and she was OK with me trying a second sport if it was something I really wanted to do.”
Nebel and Cunningham aren’t the only players switching to something new: Sophomore Christy Swartzendruber is starting fresh by joining the tennis team. Having never played tennis competitively, Swartzendruber admits that her decision to join the team was spur-of-the-moment.
“It’s a little different for me because I’m a sophomore,” Swartzendruber said. “But since Jessica was very focused on volleyball, it gave me an opportunity to do something I’ve recently been interested in.”
Of course, not every team member is joining a new sport. Freshman Erin Brubaker is content only playing volleyball and is looking forward to a new season with a new coach.
“Jessica helped me grow as a volleyball player and helped apply faith to the sport,” Brubaker said. “I was glad to get a year with her. Next season, I hope that our new coach pushes me and the team for a fun and successful season.”
A new season will mean more than just a new coach: A whole new set of commandments will be in store.