Striker prepares for tough season
During her junior season at Basehor-Linwood High School, volleyball player Lindsay Cunningham kind of enjoyed playing second fiddle to all-league hitter Christina McCarty.
From her quiet position on the court, Cunningham finished the season as the Bobcats' second leading hitter and during several matches, when opponents double and triple blocked McCarty, Cunningham even stole the show.
Now, with her senior season less than two months away, Cunningham is aware that she will be the focal point of the Bobcats this year and she has taken steps this summer to make sure she'll be ready for that responsibility.
One of the biggest steps she has taken was attending the Ray Bechard's volleyball camp at the University of Kansas.
For four days last week, Cunningham spent each entire day eating, breathing and sleeping volleyball. Along with 180 other campers, Cunningham spent the better part of the day, a day that began at 7:30 a.m. and ended at 8:30 p.m., working on her volleyball skills.
Despite being worn out, Cunningham walked away from the camp with a better all around game and a lot of fond memories.
"It was a lot of fun," she said. "All we did was play volleyball, but it was a lot of fun playing the matches at night and playing with all kinds of different girls."
During the day, the camp consisted of working on drills to enhance individual skills. Cunningham focused particularly on setting the ball and spiking the ball.
With seniors Cristin Burnett and Abby Ross firmly planted as the team's setters, Cunningham knows she will spend more time receiving those sets than dishing them out. But in order to play the back row, she knows she'll have to be able to set.
"We called her stone hands last year," BLHS volleyball coach Mardy Robinson said. "But as a coach I'm glad to see Lindsay working on her game this summer. I'll play anybody (in the back row) who can pass the ball and I have no doubt that Lindsay can play back row."
Although her desire to stay on the court and play in the back row is high, Cunningham's biggest goal is to be mean. Last year she often was told by teammates, coaches and opponents that she needed to be more aggressive, so at the KU camp she worked on being mean, too.
"I just want people to be scared of me," Cunningham said. "I'm really working on hitting the lines a lot and just hitting the ball harder, so that people are afraid to face me."
Robinson said in order for the Bobcats to have any success this coming season, Cunningham will have to be an animal at the net.
"Lindsay absolutely, positively has to be our No. 1 hitter," Robinson said. "She has to call for the ball every time she has the opportunity and she has to be more aggressive and ferocious."
The KU camp was just the beginning for Cunningham. She will attend two more camps this summer, one in July at Kansas