Sept. 10, 2004
A three-time All-American selection, Big Ten Player of the Year and Ohio State Female Athlete of the Year – just a few accolades Ohio State women’s volleyball senior Stacey Gordon has garnered during the past three seasons. In addition, she holds countless Ohio State volleyball records and ranks third in the Big Ten in career kills with a good chance to break the record by the end of the year. With little else to accomplish, what keeps the fire burning inside Gordon? A Big Ten championship.
“It would be a great thing to finish my career with a Big Ten championship” Gordon said. “Our men’s hockey team won the Central Collegiate Hockey Association championship last year and the fencing team won the National Championship. It would be nice if we could add a Big Ten volleyball championship this year.”
Coming to Ohio State in 2001, Gordon entered her freshman season with the drive and determination to help her team win every time it played and in doing so posted 513 kills in 31 matches to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors en route to a 17-3 second-place Big Ten finish.
“When I first arrived I knew what kind of program I was coming into,” Gordon, who has received a Big Ten record 11 player of the week honors, said. “We had a competitive team and worked hard to win 27 games, but we fell short in winning the Big Ten. Since then I have made it my goal to help my team win the Big Ten. I don’t want to leave here with the regrets I could’ve been better or worked harder.”
Though the Buckeyes have never won a Big Ten championship during Gordon’s tenure, they have been close. Aside from the second place finish in 2001, the Buckeyes finished a close fourth in 2002, incidently the same year Gordon ejoyed her most productive season since becoming a Buckeye. As a sophomore, Gordon posted a Big Ten best 5.87 kills per game and helped the Buckeyes to a 21-11 overall record, including a 13-7 conference record. After being named Big Ten Player of the Year, Gordon led the Buckeyes to the NCAA tournament, defeating Robert Morris in the first round and Louisville in the second round before losing to Stanford in the regional semifinals.
“Every year we have been right there in the middle of the pack,” Gordon said. “We have always been one or two wins away from winning the Big Ten crown. Last year we were decimated with injuries. However, in every Big Ten match we lost we pushed our opponents to five games. This season, we are much more matured, and if we stay healthy we will be right in the thick of the Big Ten race.”
This season, with Gordon’s offensive prowess and veteran leadership, the Buckeyes will attempt to turn a team that was 11-17 last season into a championship team. Returning six letter winners, the Buckeyes will be aided by two luxuries they did not have last year – experience and depth. Assisting Gordon will be fellow outside hitter Amanda Miller, who started all 28 matches last season, and setter Briana McCarthy, who started 16 matches last season.
Defensively, the Buckeyes will be set with Rebecca Kastein and Anna Tengnas, both of whom started all 28 matches last season.
“In terms of defensive positioning we have a lot of depth,” Gordon said. “This will lead to some fierce position battles. We also added freshmen with much needed height and we can use it to match up well against some of the stronger Big Ten teams like Minnesota and Penn State.”
Prior to her arrival at Ohio State volleyball was not always the sport Gordon devoted her time to. It was not until her freshman year in high school when she picked up a volleyball. Before volleyball, Gordon competed in a multitude of sports, including hockey.
“I love hockey and love playing it,” Gordon, who is an avid Toronto Maple Leafs fan, said. “It is the most loved sport in Canada. Everyone plays when they have the chance.”
Early in her life she was introduced to a version of hockey called ringette. Ringette is similar to hockey, but with no contact and it is a female-only sport.
“Ringette is played like hockey with the same rules,” Gordon said. “However, instead of using a regular hockey stick with a blade, you just use a stick and poke at a blue rubber ring, instead of a puck, and try and score goals. I credit ringette as introducing me to the sports world.”
When Gordon was old enough to one sport to concentrate on, she had to decide between two sports she excelled at – basketball and volleyball. The decision, a tough one for Gordon, was made easier by the influence of her older brother, who at the time was playing professional volleyball in Europe.
“My brother was the main reason I got into volleyball,” Gordon said. “I think it could have gone either way – basketball or volleyball – but since he chose that road, I decided to as well.”
Once she devoted all of her effort to volleyball, Gordon matured well beyond her years. Succeeding with her club teams and high school teams, Gordon was ready for the challenge of competing at the collegiate level. But stepping up to the next level was found challenging by the future Buckeye sensation.
“My first year was an experience like no other,” Gordon, who averaged 4.75 kills per game as a freshman at Ohio State, said. “I had to mature quickly because I was competing against some big players from other colleges. In my first year I started as an outside hitter which made me a smarter player but I had to adjust quickly to big blockers. I have grown and now with three years of playing I have the confidence I hope my team can feed off.”
Gordon’s maturity reaches far beyond the court at St. John Arena as well.
“I have matured in life and become a more disciplined person off the court,” Gordon said. “Doing things off the court like working out and getting up earlier to accomplish tasks for the day have led to a greater deal of maturity.”
The Buckeyes will undoubtedly need Gordon’s maturity and leadership to be a force if they wish to claim their first Big Ten championship since 1994. But Gordon, along with her Buckeye teammates, will no doubt be ready and excited for the 2004 season with the determination to be crowned Big Ten champions.
“I hate to lose,” Gordon said. “There is no greater motivation for me this year than to win the Big Ten. As an experienced veteran I want to set the bar at practices and help push this team. Everyone on this team is capable of succeeding and being excellent collegiate players. We have an excellent squad, I know we can win. We just have to work hard, stay focused and take it one game at a time. If we do all of this, we will be raising the Big Ten Championship trophy at the end of the season.”