It’s all about fundamentals – Spring training sets bar high for athletic teams

The Lady Cavs volleyball team prepare for the fall season. Shannon McCarty practices spiking the ball with other Lady Cavs Monday Feb. 13th. Photo by Michael House.

By Julius Williams

Whether their season starts next semester or next week, the college’s various athletic teams are hard at work making sure they are at the top of their game.

The Lady Cavs volleyball team finished their 2011 season with an impressive 26 and 13 record, finishing second in the conference and first in the region. Although their season won’t officially begin until the fall semester, Coach Jennifer Ei already has the ladies going at full steam.

“We use this spring time to increase strength, increasing their speed and agility, and yoga to incorporate flexibility, core strength and mental toughness,” said Ei.

Coach Ei said that she believes that the spring season is also important to improve on fundamental skills because it allows her athletes to take as many repetitions as needed to perfect their technique.

Allison Ewing, freshman from Lansing, takes her spring training very seriously.

“For me, it’s [about] going really strong in the weight room, and being fundamentally sound in my position,” said Ewing. “Our coach really pushes us. She is going to get the most out of us this spring.”

Also working with the volleyball team is adjunct professor and strength and conditioning coach Stephen Taylor.

“Pre-season conditioning for volleyball is primarily focused on getting the incoming freshman accustomed to weight training and developing their muscular endurance so they can survive the rigors of the season without injury,” said Taylor.

In addition to teaching exercise physiology, self-defense and tai chi, Taylor also does strength and condition coaching for many of the college’s other teams including baseball.

Most of the baseball conditioning work has to be done over the fall because the season starts so early in the spring semester. So as soon as players arrive on campus, Coach Kent Shelley puts them right into practice.

“At this point in time it’s not about quantity, it’s all about quality, it’s about perfect execution… It’s fine tuning everything,” Shelley said.

Shelley is in his 25th season with the college and he is very excited about this year’s roster. To keep the players at their best, Shelley said that they are working on a combination of offensive-defensive drills and sports conditioning. The team’s practices are a blistering combination of drills specific to each position and each situation.

“There’s a method to our madness,” Shelley said. “We focus our training on what players have to do on the field.”

Shelley said that last year, the team led the nation with stolen bases. They plan to use their speed again this year to keep pressure on their opponents.

“We have tremendous overall team speed. Our philosophy has always been to put pressure on the defense. When we get on base, we’re going to manufacture runs,” he said.

Shelley is confident that the combination of good fundamentals, speed and a strong work ethic will lead the team to another great season.

“I’m very impressed with our kids,” he said. “They have really worked hard on perfect execution. I couldn’t be more pleased… and if we can just figure out how to steal first base, we will be in a great place.”

The baseball team will open their season against Northeastern Oklahoma A & M College on Feb. 18 in Miami, Okla.

Contact Julius Williams, sports assignment editor, at


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