Women's Volleyball Coach Optimistic Amid Obstacles

Published 09.07.2001


WANTED: Women volleyball players. Immediately!

That plea was being issued at the 11th hour by Pennsylvania College of Technology's second-year coach Bambi Hawkins as her squad prepared for its Sept. 10 season opener at Penn State-Wilkes-Barre in a three-team Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference outing that includes Luzerne County Community College.

The Lady Wildcats have just nine on the roster all freshmen and the tallest of the group (at 5 feet 8 inches) is sidelined with an injury.

"We have real minimal experience on the team. . . . The first couple of practices, the main thing we did was passing, just because the first thing we get is the serve and, if we can't start with the pass, we're not going to go anywhere," Hawkins stated.

In addition to being low in numbers, relatively inexperienced and short (the net height is 7 feet 4 1/4 inches), getting her players together for practice has been difficult, too.

"We only have three to five (people) for practice each day, and it's not always the same three to five," Hawkins said. "We went through the same thing last year and we made do. Despite the fact that they don't have a lot of experience, they all want to learn how to play volleyball,'' the coach said. "They put the effort forth when they're able to come to practice, the problem is, most of the time they have classes that conflict with our practice time.''

But that doesn't mean she's writing the season off.

"They're pretty scrappy. I do have some girls who are willing to hit the floor. I don't expect to let a whole lot drop without trying to touch it,'' the coach noted. "I think they've all got good potential.

"There are teams that we are going to beat just because my girls do have a lot of natural athletic ability. Unfortunately, we start our season against some of the most difficult teams to play and I hope that doesn't dishearten them because I know that they will win some games this season," Hawkins stressed.

Of the team's probable starters, Hawkins is high on four whom she calls "real athletes" Jennifer Sterner (Spring Grove High), Amanda Stine (Wilson High), Jen Willett (Philipsburg/Osceola), and Kaila Williams (Greenville). Williams and Sterner both have high school playing experience, according to their coach.

Rounding out the roster are Jamilla Epps (Williamsport), Laura Rudenstein (Lower Marion), Kari Shoemaker (Columbia Montour Vo-Tech), Casie Walters (Athens) and Mary Yost (Central Mountain).

Although viewing this as a building year, Hawkins sees it as a stepping stone for the future of the program, which has a 17-25 record over the last three seasons, including a 5-10 record a year ago.

"My goal is that the girls learn the game of volleyball. It's enjoyable to see them learn to play. We're going to have to learn the rules and everything," Hawkins noted.

Northampton County Community College and Lehigh Carbon Community College are expected to be among the league's stronger teams. The Lady Wildcats open the home portion of their schedule Sept. 11, hosting Penn State-Schuylkill and Keystone Junior College in a 6 p.m. start.