Student manager gives volleyball team a lift

BY EVELYN LAU | OCTOBER 01, 2009 7:20 AM

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A team’s success doesn’t always depend on one person.

While the Iowa volleyball team stands 9-5 overall — one of the best starts in school history — the Hawkeyes make it known their victories come through a collective effort.

Junior Melissa Brockway is no exception to that concept.

Standing just 5-2, the Iowa native is a fixture at all of the volleyball games as a student-manager. At times, she may even be mistaken for a player because she is so immersed in the team.

That passion and understanding for the sport make her an excellent candidate for the position.

“She knows the game, so just the volleyball knowledge base is great,” said Angie Boldt, the director of Hawkeye volleyball operations. “She’s just works hard. She’s dependable. We don’t have to make sure she’s going to miss practice or skip practice. She’s there on time, and she does her work. She gets things done.”

Brockway got involved with the sport at a very early age — her father, James, began coaching volleyball around the Ames area when she was 2, and he often brought her along to practice.

Coaching a couple of premium teams, he was lucky enough to travel around the country, allowing his daughter to gain a greater appreciation of the sport as she grew up.

“From that point on, it just seemed like Melissa was always looking to have a ball tossed up to her or anything like that,” said James Brockway, the current head coach at Nevada High in Iowa. “She kind of liked the game. She was very motivated at it.”

Melissa Brockway knew volleyball was the sport she wanted to pursue in high school. Her height, while not ideal for the sport, still allowed her to play defensive specialist at Ames High School.

Her father received a circulation e-mail from the Hawkeye volleyball coaching staff during her senior year. According to the letter, the coaches were looking for an incoming freshman to become a student-manager. In return for the students’ services, they would be given scholarships for tuition — increasing every year — for as long as they held the job. It was an ideal opportunity to stay connected with the game for Brockway.

Despite originally wanting to attend school at Kansas, getting the job reconfirmed she had made the right decision in choosing a school.

Dedication and a good work ethic are especially vital to the job because managers are required to work approximately 20 hours a week and travel with the team during the season.

Heading into her third year as a student manager, the 21-year-old is on a full-ride scholarship. She currently keeps score during practice and films all the matches.

Starting this season, she also hosts an interactive blog during away meets similar to that of a play-by-play where she talks to guests online about the match.

Despite all the work, she is still able to hold an upbeat attitude every day.

“I am so obsessed with the sport of volleyball,” she said. “I love being here every day to just watch the decisions that [head coach] Sharon [Dingman] makes. I’d love to be able to coach some day. So the fact that every day is like unofficial coaching teaching is just a great experience.”

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