August 29, 2007

Collins-Parker Returns to Red

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Volleyball head coach Deitre Collins-Parker has returned to her rightful place with Cornell this season and her squad is more than ready to follow its old coaches lead.
After leaving the Red last season to test out a coaching position at the University of Georgia, Collins-Parker has realized that life on East Hill is her cup of tea, no matter how alluring the weather is south of the Mason-Dixon line. What’s more, the transition has been as seamless and natural as she could possibly hope.
“It’s like I never left because I knew just about everybody that was incoming,” Collins-Parker said. “There was just one person that came in after I left but the returning team was the same. My assistant coach Sarah did a great job so it was almost like I didn’t miss a beat. The players got a coach they were used to having so it’s been really easy.”
In fact, Collins-Parker could not be more pleased with diligent, dedicated athletes she has been getting acquainted (or re-acquainted) with during the preseason. The team dispersed for the summer months, but everyone returned prior to preseason to work at Cornell’s summer volleyball camps. It was an ideal situation, since the girls have had extra time to work out, play volleyball and bond with one other. The team’s extra hard work was evident when the women endured five days of double practices and weight- training sessions without complaint.
“Preseason has been awesome because the team came back in shape and has been motivated and working really hard,” Collins-Parker said. “We’ve had no bad days. The girls have been fantastic and in fact, it’s the best preseason ever.”
The team has been doing more than just bumping and setting. Last Saturday, it worked in the oppressive heat at a women’s golf tournament held by the Center for Women’s Athletics before they came to practice. Sunday, the squad participated in a ropes course designed to facilitate leadership and team bonding that was sponsored by Cornell Outdoor Education.
Afterwards, the girls shared their “sacrifices” for the season with each other. Collins-Parker asks that each girl sacrifice something, be it chocolate, soda, or anything to represent her commitment to the team.
“This is a team thing that we’ve done for some time,” Collins-Parker said. “It’s interesting to hear what the girls’ sacrifices are and what is hard for them to sacrifice for the team. One girl, several years ago, committed to taking the stairs and never taking an elevator.”
The squad will also be carrying a special ball with it to all practices and games that will have words written on it that represent the team. This is a new tradition Collins-Parker is implementing to emphasize the importance of unity, a major theme for the girls and coaches this season.
Also new this year is a more versatile offensive plan that will make better use of the team’s athleticism. Despite the challenges of implementing these slight changes and the acquisition of five freshmen, the coaching staff is thrilled by the performance they have seen throughout this preseason.
“I’m really happy with the attitude and the work ethic of the team so far,” Collins-Parker said. “They have shown the same level of enthusiasm all the way through. Those are all the things that made it easy to come back to Cornell because I know the athletes and I know the kind of people that they are. It was an easy decision for me to come back.”