Aug. 26, 2003
At 6’4″, one would think that balance is something that Georgia Tech volleyball standout Lauren Sauer would have mastered for quite some time. But, at the age of 20, balancing life and volleyball is something that Sauer is just now discovering.
Prior to college, Sauer had always been the dominant player on the court. In high school and club volleyball, she excelled with her size and power, but didn’t have to make many changes in her style of play. She just hit the ball, hard. Even in her first season at Tech in 2001, she continued to overpower teams with that power, starting 27 matches for the Jackets as a right-side hitter, recording 175 kills and earning Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year honors.
But, in her sophomore campaign, Sauer found herself struggling at times with her shot selection and consistency.
“Last season, I really struggled and found myself wanting to hit the same shot as hard as I could, every time. Sometimes it would work, but sometimes it didn’t,” said Sauer. “This year, the coaches have really been working on my consistency and more importantly, a balance in my shot selection. I focused this spring on hitting more shots down the line, off the block, and tipping the ball instead of just hitting cross-court over and over again, and I feel like it’s helped me a ton.”
Georgia Tech head coach Bond Shymansky agrees. “I think this season, Lauren has already shown fantastic consistency and balance in her hitting,” he said. “In her first two years at Tech, she has been dominating, yet streaky, in matches. But now, she has become more consistent and it’s been fun to watch her develop and watch her confidence grow.”
Off the court, Sauer has discovered how important it is to find a balance between academics and athletics. During her sophomore year, she, along with a few teammates, began to attend Campus Christian Fellowship meetings. Through those, she has learned several things that she feels she will be able to apply in life and on the court.
“The main thing that I have learned from being involved in CCF is balance,” said Sauer. “It’s obviously a place to worship and learn about God, but I think most importantly, I’ve discovered a huge group of people who aren’t athletes that I can hang out with and have a great time. I’ve also learned how to deal with struggles that you go through in life in a better way, which is only going to help me down the road.”
Sauer and the rest of the Yellow Jackets will soon see first-hand if this new-found balance pays off for the team as they open the 2003 season in the Courtyard by Marriott Classic on Friday in O’Keefe Gymansium at 7:30 p.m. against Northwestern. After experiencing their best season in school history in 2002, this year’s team begins the season ranked 12th in the AVCA/USA Today Coaches Preseason poll and was unanimously selected by the ACC coaches to win the conference title.
“I am very excited for this season to begin,” said Sauer. “There has been a lot of talk on campus about this season, and that’s been fun to hear. We have such a unique situation in that everyone on our team returns from last year and gets along and really respects our coaching staff and the work that they do. I have no doubt in my mind that this season is going to be a special one for Georgia Tech volleyball.”
On the court and off the court, in life and in volleyball, Sauer has found a unique analogy for the balance in her life.
“I like to think of balance as jelly beans,” said Sauer. “If you had a bowl of jelly beans and they were all the same flavor, you would get sick of them quickly. But, if you have a bowl of different flavors then they are a much better snack and you enjoy them that much more.”