Summer of Serving
WILMORE, KY—Every volleyball game begins with a serve — a toss, jump and hit to send the ball flying over the net. The Asbury volleyball team, which earned its 16th-consecutive win Wednesday night in a contest against Saint Catharine College, began their record-setting season with a different type of service.
Coach J.P. Rader and team members Emily Andrews ’11, Hannah Wheeler ’11, Brittney Rader ’13, Kelly Cole ’14, Mackenzie Burke ’14, Abi Wheeler ’14 and Allison Rehner ’14 headed to South Korea July 28–Aug. 14, to run volleyball clinics, share testimonies and participate in service projects before the school year began. The experience helped bond the team, playing a role in its run to the best record of any Asbury volleyball team history.
“We gave three, three-day volleyball clinics in two cities, Seoul and Taejon,” said Rader, who is also an assistant professor in the School of Education. “The three-day clinics were for the boys’ and girls’ volleyball teams at four different international schools: Seoul Foreign School, Taejon Christian International School, Yongsan International School of Seoul and International Christian School of Oijongbu.” Rader and his wife, Helen, worked at Seoul Foreign School from 1989 to 2009 before coming to Asbury.
“The clinics were such a good experience for me,” said Andrews, who has been on the volleyball team for four years and now serves as a team captain. “I’ve never coached before, so that showed me a different side of volleyball… The kids were also so fun, so excited for us to be there. It was cool to see them looking up to us.”
In addition to leading volleyball clinics, the team members served by sharing testimonies at the international schools, caring for orphaned babies at the Eastern Child Welfare Agency and working with elderly and visually impaired women at the Lydia House in Seoul.
“The trip to Korea was a great experience for all,” said Rader. “It allowed the four freshmen who went to bond with the three other upperclassman, and it gave us a shared experience that has aided us on the court.”
Andrews agreed, saying, “It gave the freshmen the chance to get used to us and mesh with the team so they didn’t come straight from high school to college. . . . I was really excited about that because I wanted them to get more comfortable with us. I knew they were going to be such a big part of our team. The six freshmen this year are bringing a lot to the table.”
The volleyball team will head to Montgomery, Ala., this weekend to participate in the Faulkner University Invitational. Andrews is confident the team has what it takes to continue their winning streak and ultimately secure a spot in the NAIA Volleyball National Championship Opening Round.
“I’m definitely proud of everybody,” she said. “We’re playing to our potential, and I know we can play even better. This weekend in Alabama we’re going to see that because we’re going to be challenged a lot more than in the past. We really need to keep working together and playing as one, and when we do that, have fun and laugh, you see it in the outcome of the games.”
The team’s ability to have fun and play as one has no doubt been strengthened by their time serving together in Korea.
“I believe the winning streak is at least in part a direct product of the extra time we spent together on the trip,” said Rader. “Everyone has learned to focus on the positive attributes of each person and play to their strengths.”