Oct. 11, 2012
Jon Cooper, Sting Daily -
It was once said, "You must be the change you want to see in the world."
Another time it was said, "You can't expect to hit the jackpot if you don't put a few nickels in the machine."
Yet another time it was said, "You can't plow a field by turning it over in your mind."
Some pretty deep stuff from, in order, Gandhi, comedian Flip Wilson, and an old Irish proverb.
What these quotes from three very different sources have in common is that all have at one time or another been used as inspiration at a Georgia Tech Volleyball game or practice.
The quotes found their way into the locker room via The Quote Master, an initiative started this year by the team's seniors, where players take a weekly turn finding a quote for the day that they wish to share with the team.
"The Quote Master brings a quote that's relevant to what we're doing in volleyball that week," said junior middle blocker Quinn Evans, who was assigned the task for last week. "Whether it's discipline or if we just came off a tough weekend, just how we're going to get our mind right and just something to have a focus at the beginning of practice so that we get our minds ready and in the right mentality."
The ability to unite the team around these expressions has proven to be a hit.
"Quotes are something I've always believed in," said senior libero Nicki Meyer, who remembers psyching herself by reading from a page of quotes in high school. "I know [senior outside hitter] Bailey [Hunter] is a big quote person. She's always been that way. The younger people have watched her games, they've seen that it works and that it's really helpful and they've latched onto it."
"I'm a quote person. I like quotes, especially sports quotes," said junior outside hitter Ivona Kolak. "I think that's the best thing before practice because it pumps us up and it helps us to focus. A lot of quotes are on what we need to improve or we need to work on. For example, last week was tough because we lost so we had quotes about if you fall down you have to get up, stuff like that. So it helps us."
The Quote Master can go to any number of sources to find the daily quote. The most popular, of course, is the Internet, but it's not the sole source.
"I have a big notebook with quotes so I pull some quotes from there," said Kolak. "Or I search on-line for, like, Michael Jordan, big athletes."
Meyer has perhaps the most unique source.
"Some of them come from my dad," she said, of her famous father, Urban, the head football coach at Ohio State. "Motivating is something that he is one of the best in the world at. He has a quote for just about anything. I also read a book called "Mind Gym," which is filled from front to back with quotes that really make a lot of sense to me. I took like a zillion notes while reading that book and highlighted like 10 quotes that I use all the time. The combination of those two is where I get most of them."
The Yellow Jackets will share the Quote Master's daily offering either in the locker room or on the practice floor, with Athletic Trainer Carla Gilson punching up the story behind or the meaning of the quote.
Prior to their home matches, the Jackets have a final opportunity to absorb some inspirational knowledge — prior to Head Coach Tonya Johnson's pregame speech, of course — as on the door leading to their entrance to the floor of O'Keefe Gym there are several quote notes posted.
It's actually where Kolak posted her favorite quote.
"It's a long one," she said. "It's about individuals, how every individual on the team makes a difference and how you need to sacrifice yourself and give everything you have to the team."
Quote Master duties don't cease just because the Jackets play away from O'Keefe, as they do this weekend, when they visit Wake Forest Friday night and Duke on Saturday (both are 7:00 starts). They simply take their quotes on the road.
The power of the once-spoken word is catching on throughout the locker room and is taking on a ritualistic quality to some.
"It's very much a part of my preparation every day," said Meyer, who admitted she never leaves home without her iPad, upon which she keeps her quotes. "My favorite one is 'Of all hazards, fear is the most dangerous.' [Junior setter] Kaleigh Colson knows it, she reads it with me before every game. Before every single game we'll sit there and we'll say it to each other. It's kind of our thing, I guess."
Evans, who was Quote Master during the week that followed a tough weekend on Tobacco Road, losses at NC State and North Carolina, and preceded the weekend home sweep of Virginia Tech and Virginia, admits that quotes aren't necessarily her thing, but she does like the insight into her teammates that each player's week as Quote Master offers.
"I'm not a quote person. The whole team makes fun of me and in our pump-up videos they'll have quotes of everything everybody says and my quote is, 'I don't do quotes,'" she said with a laugh. "But it's been fun and they've all been supportive. It's interesting to see where people pull theirs from or what inspires them. It's kind of a view inside of everybody else's mind."
With the team off to a strong start, the tradition of the Quote Master looks like it might be here to stay.
"I hope so," Meyer said. "I swear by quotes. I think there's something there for everybody and it can do a lot for a team. I think it's done a lot for us this year and I think it can in the future also."