By LAURA BRINDLEY ’16
Wellesley volleyball’s first month of play has already brought some exciting moments for the Blue, which includes winning the Seven Sisters Championship and clinching three victories in the past three days. The Blue is currently ranked sixth in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) with an overall record of 10-5 and a conference record of 3-2. Wellesley’s performances in September show promise for this season and seasons to come.
Wellesley outside hitter (OH) Courtney Lang ’16 has been a key player for Blue volleyball in the past two years and is starting off her 2014 season very strong. This past weekend, Lang had five kills and nine digs against WPI, which were crucial for the Blue’s 3-0 win against the WPI Engineers. Lang grew up in Seattle, Washington and attended the same high school as her teammate, Maddie Koh ’17.
The Wellesley News sat down with Lang to discuss how she became involved in volleyball and some of her favorite parts about the sport.
Laura Brindley (L.B.): How old were you when you started playing volleyball?
Courtney Lang (C.L.): I started playing my freshman year of high school. I was originally going to join the crew team, because the volleyball team at my high school was very competitive and I had never played before, but I decided to try out, not thinking I would make it. I ended up making the team even though I was not the best, and that’s where it all started!
L.B.: Who or what inspired you to play?
C.L.: No one person or event really inspired me. Everyone always asked me if I played volleyball because I was so tall, but I just played a bunch of sports growing up, as most people do. I was really into track at the time, and then once I got to high school, track was only a spring sport, so I decided to try out for a fall sport. I tried out for volleyball and made it, so I ended up playing it.
L.B.: Why did you decide to play at Wellesley?
C.L.: I knew that I wanted to continue athletics in college, if I was able to. I had been talking to the Wellesley coach and she said that I could play. I wanted to keep sports in my life in college because I played two sports all four years of high school, and I feel like I learned many valuable lessons from that.
L.B.: Describe a typical day at practice.
C.L.: We arrive fifteen minutes early, and then we do a prescribed warm-up by our strength and conditioning coaches. We usually have five to 10 minutes of stretching and then do specific drills that our coaches give us. Those drills will vary from practice to practice. We finish by playing a six-on-six scrimmage against each other, and then some days we will do weight training after that.
L.B.: What is the best part about playing OH?
C.L.: My favorite part is that it gives me the ability to play both front row and back row, because a lot of positions on the court are very specialized and they only allow you to play one or the other. Outside is one of the unique positions that allows you to play all the way around, which I really enjoy.
L.B.: Have you ever played any other positions?
C.L.: I played middle my first year of high school because I was one of the tallest [players] on the team, and then my sophomore year I switched to OH. When I first came to Wellesley, I played right-side hitter a little bit, and then I switched back to OH.
L.B.: What are some of your goals this season?
C.L.: My goal as an individual would be to have deliberate practices so I can relax in games and just play. One thing that our coach says is to “better the ball,” so when I hit the ball I want to have intent and purpose for where the ball goes. As a team, we always want to “better the ball.”
L.B.: What has been your most memorable moment while playing volleyball for Wellesley?
C.L.: Both of our coaches are very quiet on the sidelines; they keep an even kilter most of the time. But one time, our middle hitter had a very good stuff-block at a very crucial point in the game, and our assistant coach stood up and put his hands in the air and was like, “Whoa!” We call this moment “the Tom.” Whenever [Coach Tom] gets excited about a play, we call it “doing the Tom,” which originated from that one play at that crucial moment.
L.B.: What has been the biggest difference between high school volleyball and college volleyball?
C.L.: I think one of the biggest differences is the physical rigor of the sport, which is how it is in any sport when you transition from high school to college. Also, the focus and dedication to the sport intensifies. The game is the same, but the focus and physical intensity is greater in college.
L.B.: Who is your favorite professional athlete?
C.L.: LeBron James. We share the same birthday, and he’s… LeBron!