Head volleyball coach Noelle Rooke led her Lady Bears through a tough schedule this season. While preparing for the emerging sand volleyball team, Coach Rooke sat down with The Cluster to answer a few questions.
Cluster: Although your team had a tough schedule this season, what changes do you hope to implement next season?
Rooke: I scheduled a very tough non-conference schedule. We opened up the season playing the University of Washington, who is ranked number eight in the nation. We had a very tough non-conference schedule in the hopes that it would prepare us for conference, which in return it did. We had a winning record in the conference tournament and were very successful. As far as changes for next year, I just dialed it down a little bit. We are still playing some of the powerhouses, just maybe not as tough.
C: How did you first get started playing volleyball?
R: I was born and raised in California, so I grew up on the beach and used to play soccer and volleyball. I started playing sand volleyball before I ever stepped foot indoors. I am excited to coach both next school year, with sand volleyball being the newest NCAA emerging sport. I get to coach both and have players play indoor volleyball in the fall and sand volleyball in the spring.
C: What will be your outline for the upcoming sand volleyball program?
R: Ten of the girls on the team will end up being dual athletes. With sand volleyball you have to have five teams, with two players per team. I have a couple of current returns who I know will be playing on the sand (volleyball) team, as well as my incoming players.
C: How does playing sand volleyball differ in strategy versus indoor volleyball?
R: They are two completely different sports. You have the climate that plays a huge factor, with the sun and the wind. With only having two players it forces each girl to be better all around. In return, that will help them be better for indoor.
C: Is there a motto that you coach by?
R: If you ask any player on my team they would tell you my motto is honesty is the best policy. I am very big on trying to mold my student-athletes to be good people, as well as good students and athletes. I ask every one of my players to maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher, which will look better when you graduate and go on to post-graduate schools and jobs. We are also very big on competing. I am very big on these girls competing at the highest level that they can to be the best that they can for this program.
C: Who has influenced you the most in your career as a volleyball coach?
R: My college coach was a big influence on me. She is the one who saw the characteristics in me to be a good coach. I also have some professional athletes within the sport of volleyball that I look up to, such as Misty May. I think that they have definitely represented themselves well for our sport, and they are huge role models for me.
Mercer students have something to look forward to as its newest sport, sand volleyball, commences in the spring of next year.