Friday, December 2, 2022

Spartans focus play to get on 'Energy Bus'

October 18, 2010

Outside hitters redshirt junior Jenilee Rathje, left, and senior Megan Schatzle attempt a block against Illinois on Oct. 8 at Jenison Field House. The Spartans fell to the Fighting Illini, 3-2.

Photo by Katy Joe DeSantis | The State News

After describing the beginning of its season as bland and lacking visible enthusiasm, the MSU volleyball team adapted a new mentality and team-bonding exercise to get back into gear.

Inspired by Jon Gordon’s book “The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy,” assistant coach Mike Gawlik proposed the team apply the best-seller’s inspiring messages to its practices and games.

“I think the team, early on, we were watching and noticed that the energy was lacking,” senior libero Allyson Karaba said. “There wasn’t a spark out there.”

One of the major concepts of Gordon’s book is that personal “positive energy and vision must be greater than anyone’s and everyone’s negativity.”

The Spartans (11-8 overall, 3-5 Big Ten) use the concept of getting on the “Energy Bus” every day before practice and games as a metaphor coinciding with getting on a physical bus to travel.

“You get on the bus to go to the game,” junior defensive specialist Carli Weiler said. “Everyone gets on the bus, but it’s more like, ‘Are you mentally and emotionally on the bus and ready to go?’”

The team said Gawlik created physical tickets for the players to bring to practice.

The players sign them to show that they are committed to bringing an intense level of energy and a focused mentality everyday.

“We all have bus tickets that we bring to practice everyday,” senior outside hitter Megan Schatzle said. “If you want to get on the bus, bring your ticket. So everybody has to bring energy to practice, and everybody just has to be committed to the team.”

Along with being prepared physically and mentally, the Spartans also said that there is an emotional element of the energy bus that is crucial to their success.

Recently returning from a shoulder injury, Karaba said the metaphor has aided her return, and the emotional aspect is being translated to matches.

“That emotional piece is so important for our team,” she said.

“When we’re (playing), we’re always here physically; mentally, most of us are here; but emotionally, that piece is sometimes lacking, and that’s when we don’t do well.

“So that’s why we have the bus. It’s kind of a reminder to bring your emotions too.”

Showing up to practice and games with a high energy level has helped the team improve its game and become more vocal on the court, Schatzle said.

The enthusiasm during practice has grown, which leads to a greater chance for success against the team’s tough conference opponents.

In the Spartans’ weekend 3-0 shutout victory over then-No. 20 Northwestern — their first win over a ranked team this season — Karaba said everyone came in with a great attitude, which can be attributed to Gawlik’s innovative thinking.

As MSU prepares for a four-match stretch of away matches against challenging opponents and ending with No. 6 Illinois, the team hopes its recent burst of energy will remain consistent as everyone gets on the physical and metaphorical bus.

The Spartans first will take on Purdue at 7 p.m. Friday and follow it up with Indiana at 8 p.m. Saturday.

“I think that we’ve come together as a team on the bench, on the court and in practice,” Karaba said.

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“Everybody’s really bringing that together, and I feel like it’s really unified energy.”

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