68 - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - October 6, 2003
By Eric Ambinder
Daily Sports Writer
at if coicidences don't
exit? What if fate follows you
until it catches up?
When Mark Rosen was home from college during the
summer of 1986, he took a short drive to a volleyball tourna-
ment to check out a local female player who was then a high
"I heard about this girl, and I remember going to a high
school match to see how good she was," said Rosen. "After I
saw her play, she was as good as people said."
There was no conversation between the two that night. No
eye contact either. Rosen got into his car and drove back t9
his home in Anchorage, Alaska.
Rosen was playing collegiate volleyball at theo
by the locals as one of the best players in his honi ;
That sophomore would become one of the best.
volleyball from the state of Alaska.
Mark would occasionally run into her at sOd-,si1
or at volleyball venues, but since the two had at "
age difference and their lives were at different crossroads, the
only link between them remained their love for volleyball..
1988: The girl contacts Mark about where to play -
ball in college. He suggests the University of Oregon. the
picks Ohio State.
1989: They run into each other by chance in Hawaii. They
k ? 1 1j7,i
leyball club team when he was a senior in high school. He
tried out for the team mainly to get out of school for a week.
"It was fun going to that big tournament in Canada,"
Rosen said. "My career in hockey was coming to an end and
I was pretty good at volleyball. I just got hooked on it."
When Mark would return home during summers from col-
lege, he was still regarded as a hockey player, despite playing
collegiate volleyball. Leisa swam for nine years before she
developed a passion for volleyball. She joined the local club
team Midnight Sun, where her coach pushed her to be one of
the state's best players.
"I had a club coach that put me under his wing and pushed
me to be the best,".Leisa said. "He was the right coach for
me, and he knew frw to get everything out of me."
She was so talened that Sports Illustrated named her one
ofAlaska's 56 reatet sports figures of the 20th century.
's passion fo vlleyball wasn't extinguished after
g from collegeet she faced a dilemma that most
volleyball playerse rience.
k never really intene to go into coaching," Mark
d'i#lejust really wanted to y."
Oppornities arose for her play volleyball in Italy and
4ranet, but Mark was in the ted States, coaching at Cal-
State Bakersfield. Leisa d d to apply for an assistant
coaching position alongside herhusband. But the college
wouldWhlder becauseM 1was thegcoach.
"C6 tate Bakersfield d not hire me even though I
was probably the most quali "Leisa said. "I had to go out
exchange hellos.,Working in fetail dugia the day allowed Leisa to discuss
1990: Rosen is an assistant coach at the versity of Alas- coaching strategy with Mark at night.
ka at Anchorage; she is Ohio State f v*leyball player. "He would come home ... and we would come up with
It's not until the fall of 1991 at Pauley Pavilion onthe cafs- solutions together, and then he would go to work and fig-
pus of UCLA, the sight of the collegiate volleyball Final ure out the solutions," Leisa said. "That was the most diffi-
Four, when fate finally catches up. cult time because we weren't sharing volleyball or the
She is playing in the national semifinal for Ohio State. same type of lifestyle."
Mark arrives to scout the comypetition with a date; fate is just Deciding to continue her lifelong love-affair with volley-
around the corner. ball, Leisa began coaching club teams before coaching one
"We come out of the building, Pauley Pavilion, and we season at Boise State. She left the following year, accepting
come around a corner, and she's with her mom and her club an assistant coaching position at Michigan. In 2001, Leisa
coach," Rosen explains. "We physically bump into each other. was promoted to associate head coach alongside her husband.
I'm with a date, and we're holding hands, and I thought in my The two have been working side-by-side ever since, com-
head, 'I might ask this girl out over Christmas."' plementing each other's approach to the game.
Luckily, the volleyball social circle in Alaska is as big as "The way we go about things is very different. I have a
the ice-fishing circle in Hawaii. Mark quickly asks her out tendency to be a little more laid back and Leisa is much more
when the two returned home to Alaska for Christmas break. intense;' Mark said.
Leisa says yes. Leisa quickly, yet politely corrected Mark and said, "More
So, maybe it was love at fifth sight. Like volleyball, love like passionate."
takes time to perfect. While many would assume that their competitive natures
The two, so confident on the court, are nervous when they and different coaching styles would cause conflict, both said
go out on their first date - a friendly game of volleyball. their careers together have brought nothing but happiness.
"Neither of us really knew if it was a date or just volley- "We luckily look at the game the same way," Mark said.
ball," Mark said. "So it was funny because it evolved into a The way we think it should be played, and the ways we think
date, which I think we both intended or hoped, but neither of it should be taught are similar. It's just the way we get there is
us wanted to assume that. The rest is history." very different."
Mark and Leisa marry in May 1993 and now are the head That breakdown stems from their club and college coaches.
volleyball coaches at the University of Michigan. Leisa's coach played a style of volleyball that emphasized
repetition of various skills away from game-time situations.
ntil marriage, their lives played out like a maze, fol- Mark's coach ran a "West Coast" style that emphasized tech-
lowing different paths along the way, occasionally nical breakdowns in game-oriented conditions.1
intertwining and ultimately uniting at the end. Though their coaches' styles were unique, both emphasized
Both grew up in Colorado and moved to Alaska as chil- the low-risk, high-speed gae thaMark and Leisa like.
dren. Rather than inmediately taking to the game, they also The Rosens were able to fuse their unique volleyball back-
developed a love for volleyball after playing other sports. grounds by competing in professional doubles tournaments
Mark played hockey in high-school,joining his first vol- together for five years. Learning-each other's nuances, they ;
say, has enabled them to split up coaching duties, yet effec-
tively collaborate at the end of the day.
"There are certain things that I have control over and cer-
tain things that he has control over," Leisa said. "The lines
don't cross very often."
Traveling, working with the middle line, setting up the
defense and recruiting are Leisa's specialties, while Mark con-
centrates more on scouting opponents and match preparation. .
le they split professional duties at the office, they
etake pride in raising their three year-old son, Brady,
together at home.
"Everything is a race," Mark said of Brady. "Leisa and I
will be at dinner with him, and we'll have two cars. Whatever
car he's in has to get home first. I kind of like that about him
because Leisa and I are both extremely competitive people."
And it appears Brady may grow to love volleyball, too.
"He doesn't catch things very well because he wants to
always hit it back because he sees volleyball," Mark said.
In addition to the Rosens, there are four other Division I pro-
grams with married coaching tandems: Texas A&M, Drexel,
Missouri and Montana. All have been relatively successful.
One of the Rosens' main recruiting points is the family
atmosphere they create.
"Very much do we want it to be a family atmosphere"
Mark said. "In recruiting, some people will be really attracted
by it; others may be turned off by it."
Mark and Leisa have proven that mixing business with
pleasure can be successful. Since they took over the coaching
positions four years ago, Michigan has finished higher in the
Big Ten each successive year. This season, the Rosens have
led the Wolverines to a solid 2-2 Big Ten record, including a
3-0 victory over rival No. 14 Michigan State, making work
together a little less stressful and a whole lot more enjoyable.
"We really do like being around each other," Mark said.
People make the comment all the time, 'How do you go to
work with your wife everyday?' I've never really understood
that because I enjoy it. I like seeing Leisa here and going to
lunch every day andb eig together."
So the next time you're at Cliff Keen Arena watching the
volleyball team, check out who is sitting next to you. Fate has
a funny way of catching up, especially around volleyball.
"Get it done."
and a movie
Bes leyball memory V
Who's worsen Lionsor ers?
Do you' soda or pop?
Staying hdie and having
dinner with the family
Porsche 911 7
juice." Orange juice: pulp or
Cheesesteak: with or with
By Krystin Kasak
For the Daily
Feisty, passionate and intense. Not only
does she motivate her team through her
excitement for the game, but also through
her deep-seated need for victory. Her
intense drive to be the best pumps up the
team and makes them want to play better
than ever before.
The "fatherly figure."
Laid back, relaxed and calm. His reas-
surance of the team's ability calms the
Wolverines in even the most intense situa-
tions. He doesn't yell; he doesn't scream.
He just shows support and helps them
whenever and however he can.
When it comes to coaching, it's a simple
question of relaxation versus intensity.
Because of the dynamically different tem-
peraments of its head coaches, the Michi-
gan women's volleyball team has the best
of both worlds. Never having to settle for a
single answer, it has the privilege of two
completely opposite, yet completely essen-
tial coaching techniques as resolutions.
"Mark is pretty laid back," senior Erin
Wolverines. With a husband, a wife and a
three-year-old son running around all the
time, the circumstances seem more like a
family than anything else. Practices are
fun, games are even better and memories
off the court last a lifetime.
"We were in Prague this past preseason
for a couple weeks," Moore said. "We did
this toboggan thing, and it was absolutely
hilarious. Mark and Leisa went on it
together in this tiny little sled. We were
dying. Because you never see it. I mean,
they're not usually affectionate with each
other so we all started dying laughing."
Not only can Mark and Leisa bring fun
and adventure to tobogganing, but they
also add excitement to the team wherever
they go. From family dinners at their place
to friendly competition on the court, their
down-to-earth nature allows much interac-
tion with the players. Although that kind of
interaction isn't written into their job
descriptions, it's something they've done to
go above and beyond their coaching titles.
It's something that brings the team closer
together and something that each of the
girls fully appreciates.
"Their relationship is great," freshman
"Friendship-wise, we all get along,"
Moore said. "This is the closest my team
has been in all my four years. We trust
each other a lot. And as far as the coaches
go, I've gone to them with issues that I've
had, and I have no problems trusting them.
We respect each other a lot, and I think
that's the number one rule."
The head coaches do everything they
can to keep a positive and upbeat environ-
ment for the girls. Because they each have
a long and involved history of volleyball,
the players feed off of their passion and
knowledge. It gives teammates endless
reassurance to know that their coaches are
giving absolutely everything they've got.
"It's definitely a positive atmosphere,"
junior Jennifer Gandolph said. "You know
both of them are so into it. Volleyball is
their lives - both of them. It's definitely
reassuring that it's everything to them, and
they'll put anything into it and do anything
they can to make it as good as possible. It's
a great thing to have them have a relation-
ship with us and then with each other with-
The coaches have a relationship with
each other, the game and their players.
Each one of these energetic interactions
adds something unique and special to
Michigan's volleyball team. They will play
along side of the players and dig every ball
that comes their way. Or the Rosens will
invite the team over for dinner. Their com-
plementing temperaments and dedication
to each other do something different for
the team. They give the Wolverines some-
thing else to be proud of.
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