In athletics, success does not come easily. It takes years of hour-long practices to be able to compete at a high level. It takes even more work to be able to make that talent last.
The Rowan volleyball team features three senior players who have been putting their talents on display for four stellar years in the program.
Libero Rebecca Dantonio, outside hitter Erica O’Hagan and defensive specialist Jennifer Vorel have been representing the Profs since they stepped on campus in Glassboro. Coming in as freshmen, all three girls started to set the tone early for what the team was at the time and what it will be for the future.
“Rowan volleyball means family. It means hard work and dedication beyond the point that you could imagine,” Vorel said. “Giving your all not for yourself, but for your teammates as well. It’s all about being a team here. Individual statistics and achievements don’t compare to team success.”
Ever since taking over the team three years ago, head coach Deana Jespersen had nothing but praise toward the trio for their leadership and bonding not only on the court, but off the court as well.
“I can’t put it into words. I’m actually upset because it’s like a breakup this year now that they are seniors,” Jespersen said. “I didn’t recruit them since they were sophomores my first year here, but they are everything that you want as teammates, friends and individuals. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I feel very close and very lucky to have them here, and feel like I’ll always have a relationship with them for the rest of my life, which is very cool.”
With four years of experience at Rowan, the three seniors have been able to set the tone for those that came in after them and those who plan on coming and joining the team in years to come. They have created the stepping stones for brown and gold volleyball by working together since 2013.
“Coming in as freshman to now, it’s been an awesome journey. I’ve learned so much, and being able to share that knowledge with those that come in is really great,” O’Hagan said. “Knowing [Dantonio and Vorel] for four years has been more than you could ask for. Having support and knowing they’d do anything for me and I’d do anything for them has been the most amazing opportunity to have.”
Given the amount of time they have put in to the program, the three girls have formed a definition of what the brown and gold’s volleyball team means to them. Dantonio defined the last four years with Vorel and O’Hagan as some of the best of her life.
“It means everything, these last four years. They are my family, my sisters. I’d do anything for them. They have taught me really never to give up, how to be a good teammate, and being a good person in general,” Dantonio said. “Whether it’s 2 a.m. or 2 p.m., we are always together and having a great time making the best of every situation.”
Over the last four years, the group has achieved a lot for the program.
They’ve compiled a winning record in the New Jersey Athletic Conference their first three years, and now hold a 3-2 record in the NJAC after defeating New Jersey City University this past Tuesday. Dantonio, Vogel and O’Hagan have defined what Rowan volleyball is today, and most definitely what it will mean for many years to come.
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