Holy Cross Volleyball Diary: Closing The Block With Christine Strawson

Christine Strawson

Diary Entries
October 18, 2005
September 15, 2005
August 30, 2005


October 18, 2005

Hey Fans!

I decided that this journal entry was going to be a tribute to the fans here at Holy Cross. Though the volleyball matches don't draw nearly as many fans as the basketball games, the fans that we do attract are definitely die-hard. Whether boyfriends, friends or parents of my teammates or me, it is awesome to know we are regularly supported by such a great group of people. The cheers and applause are exciting, and increase the adrenaline already surging through our bodies. It is a great feeling to know that our hard work on the volleyball court is being appreciated.

The great fans are not just restricted to home matches either. Even when we go to away tournaments or Patriot League matches there is always a group of Holy Cross fans cheering us on from the stands. Though those fans may only know one person on our team, they cheer for all of us equally. Some of my best friends from home even came out to watch me play at Bucknell, at Yale and at other games in my home state of Connecticut. Whether we show it or not, the HC volleyball team truly appreciates all the support we have been receiving this season. Seeing the purple and white shirts in the stands each weekend is definitely worth the time commitment during the week.

We're half way through our Patriot League schedule and the majority of our matches from this point on are home. We've played in too many hostile environments already this year and it's great to know that we'll be returning home for most of the upcoming weekends. It's never too late to become a volleyball fan! Even if you don't know too much about the sport, I guarantee there is a friendly face in the stands that would be willing to explain it to you. You'll no doubt be impressed when you see the fast-paced, exciting game of volleyball.

This weekend is Holy Cross' annual Family Weekend and due to the mass held in the Hart Center, our matches versus Lehigh and Lafayette will be played in the Fieldhouse. The team is really excited to be playing in the Fieldhouse because it is truly our "home court" since we practice there every day. I urge anyone who is on campus looking for something fun to do to come out and cheer your volleyball team on. These games are definitely winnable matches for us and they should be very exciting. Stop by and see what all the regular fans are cheering about!

So, in honor of one of my fans...

Stay Classy,
Christine Strawson

 

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September 15, 2005

Two weeks into school and the assignments are already piling up! My teammates might poke fun of me a little bit for it, but I don't actually mind classes all that much. It gives you something to do during the day and you get to meet a lot of people and learn a lot of interesting stuff (sometimes). This semester should fly by with all the papers, tests, and of course volleyball matches. I know September is certainly flying by. Preseason seems like it was years ago, not just a month ago. It was certainly weird having everyone move back to campus so much later than us, but it was nice to see all the people again. My favorite part of this school is constantly running into people I know. If I were to go to a school that had 17,000 students, I could walk 20 minutes to a class and not run into a single person I know. Here at Holy Cross, I just walk five minutes to a class and I usually always run into lots of friends or acquaintances.

Classes seem like they'll be interesting this semester. I'm trying to knock out as many requirements as possible for the pre-med program, so I'm currently enrolled in Microbiology, Organic Chemistry 2, an English class and also Introduction to Sociology. All four of these classes meet on Monday, Wednesday and Friday so, needless to say, those days are very full. On Tuesday and Thursday I have a three or four hour lab each day. Unfortunately, when we travel on Fridays to away Patriot League matches, I'll have to miss a couple classes. The professors generally understand this commitment and are very flexible accommodating when it comes to missed work.

Besides the Crusader Classic we hosted the very first weekend, almost all of our matches are away this month. The downsides of this are the missed classes and the fact that we aren't really around campus on the weekends. On the upside, we'll be home during October which is when things start getting busy with midterms, assignments and exams.

Volleyball is going well. We are having fun traveling to all our tournaments squished into a single van. We take turns playing different people's iPods and searching for the most embarrassing songs on each. There were definitely some Hanson songs on some of them, but I won't give out any names. We picked up a much needed win versus against Sacred Heart last week and we played very well versus Providence this past Wednesday, winning our second match of the season. All the games in that match were very close, so it came down to who wanted the victory more. The win versus Providence gives us the momentum to swing into the Yale Invitational this weekend and pick up a couple more wins. I think we are really starting to play like a team. The competition in the past couple tournaments has been really quite good. The other teams have challenged us to become better players and consequently, a better team. Coach tells us that we need to take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves. We've taken this to heart and we have really tried to focus on the tiny matters at hand, like playing one point at a time. We'll be ready for Patriot League play in no time!

Well that's all for now. There is always some reading or work to be done! Keep checking the website for scores and team updates!

Until Next Time,
Christine Strawson

 

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August 30, 2005

I don't believe I had the normal college-search experience. When my friends were traveling to two or three colleges a weekend during senior year, I had my heart set on attending Holy Cross. Worcester was about an hour and a half from my hometown of Torrington, Connecticut, so it was the perfect distance away from home. I knew from the second I walked the very steep hills and the multiple staircases that this was the place for me. Holy Cross was actually the only school I applied to, that's how sure I was about it being perfect for me. I contacted coach Ridolfi about my interest in playing volleyball for his team and the rest is simply history! I am now in my second year here and I couldn't be happier. Holy Cross is an extremely challenging school as it is, but throw in volleyball and two extra labs (yes, I am a bio-major in the pre-med program) and you are seriously very busy. My teammates and I joke around that I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I wasn't as busy. When I'm not playing volleyball, I'm studying and when I'm not studying I like to hang out with some of the best friends that I made here last year. Sometimes it is just nice to take a break and relax.

I am so happy that my team gets along as well as it does. When I first came here I was nervous that being constantly cooped up in the gym at practice would not allow me to make many friends, but exactly the opposite happened. Being on the volleyball team here at Holy Cross means you instantly have like 12 close friends. Even though we are all very different people with different interests, it's nice that we get along so well.

On the court, we lost five seniors to graduation last May, but we didn't lose our hopes of a successful 2005 season. While most students still had two weeks left of their summer vacation, the team was back on the hill hard at work. This didn't mean we weren't hard at work for the preceding weeks of the summer, however. Interspersed among jobs and vacations, the weeks were also jam-packed with strenuous lifts and tiring conditioning exercises. Although the team was spread out across the country, we were still a team, all with the same goal - to return in shape for preseason. We needed to be ready to build, or rebuild in this case, a dominating team on the volleyball court.

During preseason, volleyball has to be the top priority. Practicing twice a day, we have to ignore the soreness and the exhaustion and work through it to accomplish our daily goals. Some days it seems like more team members have ice on sore body parts than those who don't, but it is all part of preseason. Coach even threw in some team runs and lifts to keep us really on top of things. A lot of injuries emerge during preseason which result in a lot of trips up to the trainers in the Hart Center. I for one had to make frequent visits because I had nasty blisters that covered the entire bottom of the ball of my foot. But I'll spare you the rest of the gory details. There are also a lot of sore shoulders and knees resulting from repetitive arm swinging and jumping, but that's what you sign up for when you play volleyball.

One of the best parts of preseason is the immediate bonding that occurs within the team. It's nice to reunite with people you haven't seen for three months and it's great to meet the new people as well. We try to keep in contact during the summer months, letting each other know what we've been up to. Although we were very tired after our double sessions, many nights we hung out as a team watching movies or even at a local baseball game. These bonding experiences are important for team morale and establishing a strong team dynamic.

At the conclusion of the preseason coach Ridolfi scheduled our first two scrimmages versus Bentley and Springfield College. Due to our very small team numbers, the Bentley scrimmage would be the first time that the team played a six-on-six match. It was hard to keep the nerves at bay as we stepped onto the court in our new roles for the first time. Instead of the controlled and disciplined style that coach asked us to play, we played the frantic style of Bentley that led to much frustration on everyone's part. After the scrimmage, a couple of teammates attributed the sub-par performance to not being comfortable playing with each other yet. Coach seemed to agree. He felt that there was an element of trust that had been missing in the game. We didn't have trust in our own abilities to perform at that level and we didn't seem to have trust in our teammates either. Before the Springfield scrimmage the next day, coach implored us to trust each other on the court. The trust seemed to be there a little more that day as we settled into our roles and began to execute the game plan. We needed to excise the freelancing on defense and play with grace under fire.

The scrimmage still had its rocky moments, but it left the team with a more optimistic attitude than the Bentley scrimmage had. We were certainly capable of playing high-caliber volleyball and the only thing that would prevent us from doing so would be ourselves. We needed to be physically, mentally and emotionally ready for the upcoming season.

This coming weekend, September 2nd and 3rd, we'll be kicking of the 2005 season with the Crusader Classic, hosting Binghamton, Siena and St. John's. Until then we hope practices will be very productive in terms of execution of skills and also in building a strong team dynamic. People may call us inexperienced and young and they may overlook us when it comes to Patriot League contention, but that would be their own fatal mistake. You should never underestimate a team that has the heart that 'HCVB' embodies.

Until Next Time,
Christine Strawson

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