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Experiences mean more for alums than All-America status

Postby PonyPride » Mon Mar 08, 2021 10:26 am

From SMUMustangs.com:

Friendship, Experiences Hold More Meaning For SMU Alums Than All-American Status
By Alex Riley

Special to SMUMustangs.com

DALLAS – It's a little bit of a running joke when Caroline Castle and her husband, Troy, meet new people.
Somewhere after the introductions and pleasantries, Troy will inevitably crack a smile and make a passing comment about how he married an All-American.
Literally, he did.
Even after almost 10 years, it's a notion that makes Castle laugh and shake her head.
"I still don't think to this day I fully have registered the significance of it," Castle, a two-time honorable mention All-American during her playing days with SMU volleyball, said. "We had had a couple All-Americans before me, but compared to the bigger schools, we didn't have those numbers. I felt like it was kind of an honor to coach (Lisa Seifert) and Cristine (Dixon) because they were the ones who were dedicating all the time to making me better."
SMU volleyball got its start in 1996. It took just over a decade for a player to earn the sports highest national individual recognition.
The American Volleyball Coaches Association has been honoring All-Americans since its inception in 1981. The recognition has been reshaped over the years to add more players with multiple teams and honorable mention status. Yet, it wasn't until 2009 when Kendra Martin and Dana Powell were tabbed as honorable mention selections that any Mustang ever cracked the list.
"It still brings a lot of humility to my heart that I would even receive that honor, to be honest," Martin said. "I definitely think it was a wonderful gift from God that I would even receive that. It was an honor to be on a team with a bunch of other girls too who played just as hard as Dana and I did."
While it took some time for a player to receive the recognition, the Mustangs certainly had an abundance of talent get recognized in the years that followed...
Starting with Martin and Powell in 2009, SMU placed at least one player on the AVCA's All-American honorable mention list in seven of eight years. Powell, Castle and Morgan Parker were picked as honorable mention All-Americans twice, while Avery Acker was a selection three times. Janelle Giordano was an honorable mention pick in 2015, the year SMU had three players make the list.
For years, Seifert watched as talented players came and went. SMU had moments of regular season success, but she knew getting national attention could elevate the program even further. Following the first All-Americans in 2009, SMU recorded six 20-win seasons between 2010-2017, with two American Athletic Conference titles and three total postseason appearances, including two in the NCAA Tournament.
"From inception one of my primary goals was to develop a nationally recognized program. I feel like having All Americans, being Regionally and Nationally ranked or even receiving votes does that for SMU Volleyball. It makes me proud and very happy that we've been able to do that."
It's a nice distinction to have, but for the players who earned the honor, it's an afterthought when looking back on their careers.
No plaque or certificate is worth more than the experience of actually playing the game.
"Yes, it was a great award, but when I talk to people and they ask, 'How was your experience (as a D-I athlete)?' that's not even something that comes up," Parker said. "It was great, but the main thing that I loved was going to the NCAA Tournament. It is a great award but it's not something I tell people that I got."
Acker certainly agreed.
"We loved each other, the whole team, and we just had a freaking blast blowing people up on the court. And those awards just kind of happened," Acker said. "It was just a product of enjoying absolutely every minute of being with the team and having fun doing what we loved."

2015 Avery Acker AAC Setter

2013 Avery Acker AAC Setter
2014 Morgan Heise AAC Libero
2015 Avery Acker AAC Setter
2015 Morgan Heise AAC Libero
2016 Morgan Heise AAC Libero
2019 Lily Heim AAC Setter

Dana Powell Honorable Mention
Kendra Kahanek Honorable Mention
Dana Powell Honorable Mention
Caroline Young Honorable Mention
Avery Acker Honorable Mention
Avery Acker Honorable Mention
Caroline Young Honorable Mention
Avery Acker Honorable Mention
Janelle Giordano Honorable Mention
Morgan Heise Honorable Mention
Morgan Heise Honorable Mention
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