The Journey to Georgia Day 5

Posted Friday, November 13th, 2015

Written by senior Hannah baker

As I sit on the charter bus headed back to little ol’ Greenville, IL I am reflecting back on the trip as a whole. That includes the madness that the coaches and Becca Winemiller had to go through of booking hotels, finding restaurants to eat at that will take almost 30 people, figuring out all the little details about the tournament and several more. I also reflect on the bus rides, the stop in Nashville we had on the way to Georgia, hanging out in the hotels, and lastly, being at Berry College for the NCAA DIII National Tournament. You could ask any of the girls or coaching staff a part of this team and they would agree that from the moment we left H.J. Long Gymnasium at Greenville College, complete excitement flowed from us. Excitement that was born when we won our Conference Tournament.

Just yesterday we had our big game. Of course, we carried our excitement into that game, but we also were nervous. I mean, we were about to play the #2 seed team in the nation, Emory. They were big, fast, and strong, but that didn’t stop us from playing with all we had. The first set was definitely difficult. It took us some time to adjust to how they played. The next set we started to get into the groove of things and we kept right up in points with them. Emory won set one and two. In the beginning of set three, the six of us on the court came together and told each other that we are not finished here. We knew we were not done yet. We fought in that set, we fought hard. With having a lead the entirety, we won set three. We were feeling good, as we had just taken a set from the #2 team in the nation. Set four rolled around and Emory stepped up their game. We unfortunately lost that set, giving Emory the over all win. I look back on this game and of course, get a little upset. But then, I think about the team I got to play it with. We never quit, we never gave up. We played with heart, and most importantly, we played for each other.

I went to a junior college for my freshman and sophomore year, and as I was nearing the end of my days there, I was trying to decide where I wanted to go to continue my education and volleyball career. I had remembered that Coach Ackerman reached out to me while I was at the junior college. So I decided to schedule a visit. As soon as I got to meet with Coach Ackerman, it was set, I needed Greenville College, I needed this volleyball family, I needed this coach. It might sound silly to some people to NEED a college and volleyball team, but if you know anything about the team, you know it is most definitely not.

As a transfer student, I may have been a little awkward and shy, but that sure didn’t last long. This team consumes you, it welcomes you, it pulls you in to be something bigger than yourself. I never thought that I would be a college student for longer than 4 years, but just recently I accepted the Graduate Assistant position for this team. I decided that I’m not finished with this family God has blessed me with. I can speak for the other seniors that we will never be finished with it.

As a senior on this team, I am forced to face the fact that my volleyball career is over. Yes, it is a sad thought, but when a girl is a part of a team like this one, she knows she has her teammates until the day she dies.


The Journey to Georgia Day 4

Posted Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Written by Marissa Erwin

Hold the ladder

For as long as I have been a part of Greenville College Women’s Volleyball, the team of 2010 and their story has been almost legendary. If there had been any team that exemplified our philosophy, it was them. Their prevalent history of servant leadership, solid faith, competition, and pure love became a foundation of Greenville volleyball; To be as they were was our goal. As they progressed to the regional tournament, this solid love and appreciation for their team was exemplified in their seniors especially.

I don’t know if there is another team that can say that they value each and every player as much as they could say it. The seniors, faced with the reality of their final career game, could have easily pouted and clung to their medals and their memories of competition. But they took it a step further, and without a single thought of hesitation walked to the girls that were unable to dress (and thus get a medal) and embraced them before giving their senior NCAA championship participant medals to those players.

While I cannot recall a conversation that I had with any of those seniors from that day, it is evident the impact that their actions had on the team. I had the pleasure of playing alongside and being coached by one of the recipients of those girls’ astounding selflessness. Their impact on the coaching staff has been displayed with the clear philosophy of true love and acceptance. The team of 2010 has, and always will be, a legend to us sisters and a staple to who We are as a whole.

From the very beginning, that story was told to us. To me, this story really resounded the impact of “holding the ladder”. This concept is so important in our lives as a team. As we begin our climb, we are at first able to climb by ourselves. But as we reach for higher and higher goals, our foundation shakes. We simply cannot succeed without someone holding and supporting the ladder on which we are climbing. As we come and go through GC volleyball, we at first contribute as players before fulfilling our final role as part of the huge family holding the ladder for our sisters after us. Who We are could not have been accomplished without our sisters before us, without their influences shaping who We are. They say the apple does not fall from the tree, and we are lucky to fall into the arms of a family that is full of a love and support so unique and hard to find. If we were to forget our base, we would fall. It is clear to me that with each successive alumni class, We become stronger.

This morning, we woke up with the exciting realization that today we were to play in the NCAA DIII championship, something that had not been accomplished since our 2010 sisters before us. The atmosphere in which we conducted ourselves was amazing; the positive comments and air of determination was clear. We ate lunch at an adorable sandwich shop called Jamwich, with the anticipation mounting every moment.

Arriving at Berry College dressed in our best, we watched the game before ours. The excitement bubbled over, and before we knew it we were on the floor. Some teams may shy away from the fact that they were facing the team projected to win the entire tournament, but our foundation has made that impossible to be our style. We rose, minimizing errors and putting up an amazing fight. We lost in four, but we put up more of a fight than any team in that gym would have ever expected. As I found out after the match, the general opinion of our little team from Nowhere, IL was that if we had been placed in a different bracket, we would have made it very far. No matter the outcome, I think I can speak for my sisters when I say that we feel so blessed to have been able to face such a challenging team, and were able to learn so much about ourselves and our game.

After the awards presentation, we seniors followed in our 2010 sisters’ footsteps. We took our place at the base of the ladder and approached the five sisters who were unable to dress for the match. We embraced them, and gave them our medals.

I’m honestly at a loss of words to even begin to describe the emotions of the ten of us. To give up the medal that absorbed all four years of my blood, sweat, and tears was so much easier than I ever would have thought. Those four years transformed me from a selfish and vindictive girl to the woman I am today. Those four years taught me love, grace, and maturity. If there has ever been a moment when Jesus has been present in those four years, it was then. The joy was indescribable, as I type here with tears freely flowing. (No surprise there). To give something so precious without a hint of regret is an amazing thing, one that I believe can only be achieved in the presence of our Savior and the legacy of our sisters before us. Every single instant of this journey that We embarked on will be everlasting.

We are so blessed. This family is more than anything I could have ever asked for. My only hope is that I will have an impact on my sisters after me as I join the sisters before me. We thank our team, as we are so luck y to have led such a wonderful team of young, godly women. We thank our coaches, who stood by us, taught us, and transformed us into better players and women. We thank our fans and family for supporting and cheering us on. But most importantly, we thank our sisters before us. Without you, We would not be a We. We would not have accomplished this much, both athletically and spiritually. Its an amazing thing to have hundreds of sisters before us, holding the ladder for us. I simply cannot stress that We would not be the team that We are without our foundation. Thank you for inspiring us and for holding us steady in the pursuit of the sport that sets our souls on fire.

As Jamie, Loves, Merb, Hannah and I start our new journey of holding the ladder for our sisters before us, we enter new roles. We hang up our knee pads and Nikes for the last time. Our careers as collegiate volleyball athletes are over. However, our four years here as players is not our legacy. Our legacy is as teammates and sisters, and we can only hope that our influence adds to the influence of those before us in the pursuit of making GC Volleyball all that it can be. So I will repeat to my little sisters what you all said to me on Senior Night:

I will hold the ladder for you.


The Journey to Georgia Day 3

Posted Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Written by Senior Jamie Schollenbruch

After our wonderful stay in Nashville, Tennessee last night, we embarked on the rest of our journey to Mt. Berry, Georgia. We are finally here in our hotel and it’s all starting to become more real to us.

Today was the first time we got a glimpse of what it’s like to be apart of the NCAA tournament and what an awesome first impression it was. When we first pulled up to the college, we were in awe of God’s beautiful creation throughout their entire campus. When we drove up to the gym, it all set in for me that we were really here and actually going to play in the NCAA tournament. We walked in the gym and saw the NCAA poster with our name on it, and then a sign about private practices, which made it seem all the more real.

As we took our first steps on the court, I was overwhelmed with joy to be in that moment with my sisters. Yes, it was just a regular gym, but the meaning behind the road to get there made that gym so much more than just an ordinary gym. The emotions are still high and all over the place, but one thing that has stayed constant is the determination factor to fight through any challenge that is at hand. Our team is ready for the challenge to face one of the best teams in the nation tomorrow. We know we can control our energy and attitudes and I could not be more excited to see how everything unfolds for this team tomorrow.
We have all the pieces of our puzzle together, but one of our crucial pieces to our puzzle is still in Greenville. That crucial puzzle piece is Coach Ivan Estevez, who unfortunately could not make the trip with us. He’s done phenomenal work with our setters this year, which has played a huge role in our success. If I could change one thing about this trip, it would be to have him here with us to experience this amazing opportunity. I am so thankful for the relationship that I have made with Ivan in my four years here. I am so glad his first year coaching was my freshman year at Greenville, otherwise these past four year would not have been nearly the same. Ivan, we know how much you wish you could be here and know that we wish you could’ve been here too, but we know you will be our backbone and hold the ladder for us back in Greenville.

The past few days have been very exciting and filled with great meals, fellowship, a practice, and more shenanigans, but tomorrow we carry our briefcases into Berry College to take care of business. Time is ticking down until the first whistle blows tomorrow, but there are no better sister or coaches that I would rather take that floor with.


The Journey to Georgia Day 2

Posted Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Written by senior Marissa Lovell

The Long Road Ahead

Tournament Champions. Georgia bound. NCAA Tournament. These words still seem so unreal in our minds. In fact, we are currently on the bus on our way to Georgia and I am still trying to take it all in.

Finding out we were leaving for Georgia 24 hours before departure time left us frantically packing and making travel arrangements, but overall this has already been a day full of excitement and anticipation for the team. We loaded the charter bus with our overpacked luggage bursting at the seams and were surprised with snacks from the GC Baseball team and a team mom as well. This community always comes together to love and support one another, and it’s truly remarkable to be a constant witness of that.

So we begin on the Long Road Ahead and from here our first stop will be Nashville, TN. We will take a night to celebrate as a team and enjoy all of the tourist attractions that the famous city has to offer. Reflecting on this amazing opportunity God has blessed us with could bring a tear to any of our eyes and will be something we cherish for the rest of our lives. Whenever I think of this amazing group of girls I am reminded that I am a part of a family and a legacy that will continue on forever. The conference tournament win serves as a true reminder that adversity can be overcome through hard work, discipline, and never losing faith in God or your sisters. This experience has already taught us so much as players and as people, and this journey is just beginning.


The Journey to Georgia Day 1

Posted Monday, November 9th, 2015

Written by senior Mary Beth Merten

Today marks the beginning of an incredible journey for the panther volleyball family. Come along with me because the Journey to Georgia begins now.

To start off our day, we were recognized in chapel by Athletic Director, Kent Krober, for our exciting accomplishment – winning the SLIAC conference tournament and advancing to the NCAA Division III women’s volleyball tournament. After being acknowledged, we made our way over to the DC to watch the Selection Show that began at 10am. When we walked in, the final set from the conference tournament championship match was playing on the projector. Everyone got goose bumps as we watched the last few points unfold, leading up to our come-from-behind victory. As the last point was scored, we all cheered as though we were still in that moment.

About this time the Selection Show began, and we anxiously waited for our name to be called. Then we heard it – we were set up to play the team who is favored to win it all, Emory University. What an amazing opportunity! The host of this region is Berry College in Mount Berry, Georgia.

The remainder of the day was pretty hectic, trying to figure out all the details of the trip: when we were leaving, where we were staying, what time we played, this list goes on. Eventually, we found out that we leave tomorrow, Tuesday at 12:30pm!

At 4pm, we potentially had our last practice of the season in HJ Long gymnasium. It was definitely a bittersweet moment. All the emotions and memories of Saturday night’s game came flooding back, along with the sadness of it possibly being the final practice of the season; and for the seniors, perhaps their last practice in the gym where they have grown together these past few years.

After practice it was a mad rush back to our rooms to begin packing, because day 2 of the Journey to Georgia begins soon…

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