Friday, December 2, 2022

Talented Transfer

After leaving Northern Illinois for MSU, junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski has impressed early

August 29, 2012
Outside hitter Lauren Wicinski makes a play as a member of the Northern Illinois volleyball team. Prior to the season, Wicinski transferred to MSU and is making an impact for head coach Cathy George's Spartans this season. Courtesy of Northern Illinois Athletic Communications
Outside hitter Lauren Wicinski makes a play as a member of the Northern Illinois volleyball team. Prior to the season, Wicinski transferred to MSU and is making an impact for head coach Cathy George's Spartans this season. Courtesy of Northern Illinois Athletic Communications —
Photo by Courtesy Photo | and Courtesy Photo The State News

Lauren Wicinski wants to dominate people. And after three games this season, her new head coach Cathy George knows this much is true.

“She’s one of the more aggressive players I’ve ever coached,” George said.

A junior outside hitter for the MSU volleyball team, Wicinski is listed at 6-foot-1-inch and is, quite frankly, an imposing figure on the volleyball court. Wicinski spent two seasons playing for Northern Illinois, earning back-to-back MAC Player of the Year honors before transferring to MSU this summer, piling up a whole heap of accolades along the way.

So, somewhat unsurprisingly, when junior setter Kristen Kelsay found out Wicinski was thinking about transferring to MSU, she was excited. She marched into head coach Cathy George’s office with a few other players and flatly announced, “We want her.”

“She comes with experience and leadership,” Kelsay said. “She fit in right away, and I think we’re better because of her. We’re very excited to have her.”

Now, some five months later, they have her. Wicinski — eligible immediately due to the NCAA’s policies on volleyball transfers — wasted no time in announcing her presence, making her debut in last weekend’s Spartan Showcase. She was named showcase MVP, as MSU took home their ninth-straight title.

“The campus is just so big here,” Wicinski said of her initial transition to MSU. “But the team made (the adjustment) very easy. Chemistry is what they pride themselves on. It’s unique. I can call anyone on the team and hang out whenever.”

One of the few questions about Wicinski’s transition was whether she’d be able to adjust to playing in the Big Ten after starring in the MAC, something Wicinski herself admitted she wondered about.

“I wanted a better environment (than the one at NIU),” Wicinski said. “And when I visited, I hit it off really well with some of the girls.”

Although there were numerous reasons Wicinski felt MSU would be the best fit, she said there was one moment in particular when she knew MSU was where she wanted to be. When she visited campus, George gave her a highlight reel from the previous season at MSU, to give Wicinski an idea of how things went in East Lansing. That’s when it clicked.

“I was watching the film and got goose bumps,” Wicinski said with a smile. “I figured that was a good sign.”

Wicinski arrived on campus back in May, giving her time to acclimatize to a new situation before the season started. Kelsay said she thought the extra three months helped with the adjustment.

“It’s always better to learn the team culture from the players,” Kelsay said. “It made her learning curve so much smaller.”

Now that the transition has been made, it’s time for Wicinski to prove her worth on the court, something she’s already done to her teammates.

“That’s what everyone was talking about,” she said. “And it was a fear of mine too. But it motivates
me.”

According to Kelsay, Wicinski seems well motivated already.

“She’s been killing balls left and right,” Kelsay said with a laugh.

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