14- The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 10, 1997
Mendoza leads 'M'
way she sets- witi
By Tracy Sandler other athletes is her hunge
Daily Sports Writer a hunger to be the best. Fo
One can be sure of very few things in life. For the her sport of choice, the te
Michigan volleyball team, one of those things - actu- the individual.
ally, one of those people - is senior setter Linnea "I think a lot of athlet
Mendoza. want to be great," Giov
So far, Mendoza has been the model of consistency Linnea it's more that she u
this season, being named to two straight all-tourna- is really a better concept,
ment teams and extending her Michigan all-time I've never seen her as som
asist' record to 3,662. accolades very much."
"She's somebody that comes in every day very Having recruited Met
focused," Michigan coach Greg Giovanazzi said. "Not tremendous athlete as well
only on the technical part of the game, but also on the er.
sfrtegic part of the game" "Including the people I'v
Mendoza began her volleyball career as a sixth- the national team, she is re
grader. The Santa Barbara, Calif., native had the I've ever coached," Giova
opportunity to play beach volleyball, an experience tion is exceptional. She's v
th helped improve her skills as a player. eye coordination and her j
Ever since I started club, I've been playing beach, She just does things play
14ndoza said. "It was part of our training that we many people are capable o
ued to do at home in the summertime, and it was "Her touch on the ball
,od exercise. It taught me a lot about court awareness setters on some of the 01
and ball control." Obviously, she's not a very
Thtoughout her life, Mendoza has participated in to complement that with
many kinds of athletic endeavors, though she found determined she is."
tom sports more enjoyable than individual sports. As a senior on the team
"I did a lot of individual sports when I was younger' a team leader. Her leadersh
f endoza said. "Not a lot, but I started tennis and gym- from the example she sets
iastics. I just never really liked those kind of sports, "She's really good at be
because, not to diminish those sports obviously, just for players can look to fo
me as a person, I just didn't like everybody looking at Giovanazzi said. 'And als
me out there. I like this, because it's a team sport. I've in just about every match
met some of my best friends through it." Michigan and knows wha
One aspect of Mendoza that sets her apart from That's something that her
volleyball just the
r for victory, as opposed to
r Mendoza, as seen through
am is more important than
es work hard because they
anazzi said. "I think with
wants to win, which I think
because it's team-oriented.
neone who wants individual
ndoza, Giovanazzi saw a
as a skilled volleyball play-
ve coached at UCLA and on
ally one of the best athletes
nazzi said. "Her coordina-
very quick afoot. Her hand-
udgment are exceptional. ...
ing volleyball that not too
as a setter is better than the
ympic teams in the world.
y tall person, but she is able
how quick she is and how
n, Mendoza is somewhat of
lip stems her work ethic and
for the rest of the team.
eing someone that the other
r day-to-day discipline,"
o somebody that has played
h since she's been here at
at the Big Ten is all about.
and Sarah (Jackson) have in
common and are able to offer to the rest of the team."
Since her freshman year, Mendoza has bettered
multiple aspects of her physical and mental game. She
knows what is needed to improve and to play to the
best of her abilities.
"I'm very competitive, and I think I've worked real-
ly hard," Mendoza said. "I've worked really hard for
the last four years. I've always loved playing volley-
ball, but I've learned it takes a lot more work outside
the gym to get good"
In addition to her development as a player,
Mendoza has developed as a person. When she first
started at the college level, Mendoza's competitive
spirit sometimes served as a detriment, rather than a
"She doesn't just react to the situation on the court
as much now," Giovanazzi said. "She's able to step
away, analyze it a little bit and counter it with some-
thing strategic, intelligent. She's a pretty emotional
person. She's able now to hold that in check, while she
does a good job of making some strategic changes."
Off to such a strong start and competing in her last
season, Mendoza is playing her heart out every day.
"I just want to play like every match is my last,"
Mendoza said. "It seems kind of corny to say that, but
I really feel like it more this year than ever because it
is my last year. It could be taken away from me just
like that. ... At this point in my career, I'm a senior,
and I've worked four years.
"It's not so much I want to get better at setting a cer-
tain set, because that time has kind of passed for me.
It's more of a working hard from a team aspect. I've
got to do other things better to make this team better,
as maybe being a leader, a senior or a friend."
JONATHAN SUMMER/ Daily
Senior setter Linnea Mendoza, who holds Michiganfs all-time assist record with
3,662, enjoys playing on the sahd in the summer in her native California.
Johnson succeeds in second go
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By B.J. Luria
Daily Sports Writer
Sometimes things don't turn out
exactly as planned.
When Shelley Johnson arrived in
Ann Arbor in the fall of 1993 for her
freshman year, she planned on play-
ing field hockey for the Wolverines.
Though not a
superstar in highr
had played the
sport for four
years at The
Kinkaid School in
Houston. She was
twice named all-
excelled in bas- Johnson
ketball and soft-
ball, earning 12 varsity letters in the
After attending spring training and
preseason practices tat Michigan,
however, Johnson decided that she
did not belong on the field hockey
"I just realized it was not the thing
for me at that time,' Johnson said.
Flash forward 2 1/2 years. It is
1996, and uncertainty surrounds the
field hockey program.
Despite this, Johnson walked onto
the team in January 1996. In one of
her last moves at Michigan, coach
Patti Smith added Johnson to the
In the summer of 1996, new coach
Marcia Pankratz and her staff arrived
in Ann Arbor. Under the new regime,
Johnson played in six games last sea-
son and started one, recording one
"She jumped right in and was able
to play at the level of a senior after
not playing for three years," Pankratz
Johnson admits that despite the
support she got from her teammates,
it was physically difficult for her to
return to the field after the three-year
"The conditioning that's required
to play field hockey was quite a
shock to the system," Johnson said.
"But in terms of accepting me as part
of the team ... they welcomed me
with open arms."
While making a large time' com-
mitment to the team on the field,
Johnson's grades remained at the
same high level.
Following the 1996 season, she
was named to the Field Hockey
Coaches Association Academi' All-
America Team, Academic All-Big
Ten team and was given the U-M
Athletic Academic Achievement
Johnson, the eldest member of the
1997 squad, is now a graduate stu-
dent, who is approaching her 23rd
Johnson has no regrets about hier
late start in Michigan field hockey.
"I think everything works out for
the best," Johnson said. "I've had an
incredible opportunity working with
the coaching staff we have now. It's
hard to think about playing field
hockey and not playing field hockey
Despite her relative inexperience,
Johnson has established herself as an
important contributor to this
Michigan team - both on and off
"Shelley has really been a great
leader for us," Pankratz said. "She
has done a tremendous job."
Johnson earned a starting job this
year in the bockfield. She will retain
her starting role even when four
Michigan players return from South
Korea this week. The four Wolverines0
were competiing for the United $tites
in the Junior World Cup Under-21
In four games as a starter this-year
Johnson has irecorded four asssts,
including one on each of Michigan'
goals against top-ranked North
Carolina last Sunday.
As they gear up for the Big Ten
season, the Wolverines need Johiison
to continue to do what she has been,
doing for the last year and a half.
"She's aggressive, she's smart and
she's poised," Pankraitz said. "Shelly's
work ethic is great and she sets a
Sometimes things don't work out
exactly as planned.
Sometimes they work out even bet-
Continued from Page 13
don't schedule opponents from the
Mid-American Conference (home of
Eastern Michigan) more often. As if a
regional rivalry with such cupcakes is
"Bowling Green, Akron, Toledo and
Miami (Ohio) are some pretty com-
petitive teams and better than people
realize'" he said.
Good thing Cooper wasn't strapped*
to a polygraph, because a line thatbla-
tant isn't just false, it's insulting.
Yes, the Big Ten is a heck of a con-
ference, probably the second-best in
the nation after the Southeastern. But
scheduling the likes of Rice and
Pittsburgh, and there are worse, is an
insult to the institution that is college
Only 112 schools are powerful andO
wealthy enough to compete at the
Division I level as opposed to the 300-
plus teams that play Division I mens
basketball. Tearing apart such lowly
opponents will only force them from
the ranks of Division I and erode what
is a fabulous sport.
- Alan Goldenbach can be reached
via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UM students, contact Meagan or Christen at 764-0558.
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