A Fond Farewell to Senior Yvonne Marten
It is time to bid a very fond and sad senior farewell to one of the hardest headed athletes that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I am speaking of Yvonne Marten who played her final UD volleyball match in last year's ncaa tournament. Later this year she will be entering Marquette's four year DDS program.
When coach Kelly Sheffield finally decided on one word to describe Yvonne he used 'resilient'. Why do I refer to Yvonne as hard headed? Yvonne has had reconstructive knee surgery three times as well as a torn miniscus. Coach Horsmon took a chance that Yvonne would recover from her knee injuries in high school and it drove Yvonne to become the best player possible even after her surgeon suggested that she give up competitive volleyball. Yvonne became a tremendous player her senior year playing all around for the first time in her career.
"You know, most players play their careers, whether it's a good career or not, they leave - and that's it. But every once in a while you have a player that will still be weaved into the fabric of the team long after they leave. Although I never coached her, I can tell that Christy Utnage was one of those players. Kortney Norris was definitely one of those players. Her dedication, work-ethic, team-first mentality, passion, drive, and sacrifice carries over to this day. Traditions and attitudes they brought in are still carried over today. Their spirits are still here. And that's the thing, when our younger players now think of leadership and how they should react and respond in certain situations, the image more times than not they will lean on, will be Yvonne's. An older player like Rachel Krabacher has been able to see the growth and maturation of a great leader and that will impact her. A younger player like Kaitlyn Krause will be able to see what a great leader does and will be able to take some of those things with her when she becomes a leader. Because of that, Yvonne will still have a lasting impact with our team and program for a long, long time to come. And when it gets right down to it, isn't that the greatest gift of all?"said Kelly Sheffield.
When I asked coach Horsmon why he decided to take a chance on Yvonne even after injuries in high school he replied:
"Yvonne was just coming off an ACL surgery when we saw her at a practice in Munci. Her coach Mike Lingenfelter really liked her and said she was a great kid with a big upside. Mike was also the coach of Bethany Akerhelm who played for us and I really respected his opinion on players. We also found out that Yvonne's parents were UD alum and of course that made this a great fit for several reasons. Yvonne was the type of athlete we liked to bring in, she was long, physical and athletic. Yvonne also worked hard in and out of the classroom and we knew was going to be successful in our program and UD family."
"Pretty special kid, working through the number of knee surgeries that she has had and helping the program reach so many successes."
Tim Horsmon and Tami Ores may have recruited Yvonne but Kelly Sheffield had the pleasure of coaching her. When asked about Yvonne's mental toughness here is what Kelly had to say:
"If I coach for another 20 years, I won't have another person/player like Yvonne on my team. When obstacles and adversity came her way, her love and passion for the game increased. Think about that for a minute. Most people are the exact opposite. After her 4th knee surgery, her and I sat down and talked about possibly calling it a career. Well, actually, it was me talking. She wanted nothing to do with that conversation. As she was leaving the room, she said, "I've worked too hard, put too much in. My career is going to end on MY terms, MY way. It has to!" Yvonne is one tough cookie, but I'll tell you, her teammates, especially the ones this year, loved her for her compassion and her team-first mentality. She grew a lot during my time here, and her last year she put it all together".
Each player touches you in a unique way and here is what Kelly said he would miss the most about Yvonne:
"Her head nod. Anyone that has been around her has seen her do it - a lot. And it means a lot of different things. When things are going good on the court, it means "Ok, here we go!". When she got blocked it meant, "Ok, you got me that time. Good for you. Game On!". During a team meeting it meant that she was mentally and emotionally engaged, agreeing with what was said and usually fired up. During an individual meeting it meant that she was on the same page as me, at which time she would usually say "good talk" and leave the room. At the core, she is a competitor and forward looking. Rarely is she spending energy on stuff behind her. When a person's motor is always moving forward, people usually follow. She made her teammates better because of that drive, and she made me a better coach because of that drive".
"The other thing I'm going to miss, whenever I threw out a Seinfeld quote, I knew Yvonne would be able to pick that up. It's kind of depressing for me that I'm starting to run out of players that can laugh and roll with, "The sea was angry that day my friends, like an old man trying to send soup back in a deli", or "These pretzels are making me thirsty", or "You stole my Jesus Fish!". Oh well, I'm sure players are frustrated that I can't talk about and quote Jersey Shore with them".
I asked Yvonne's teammates from last year three questions about Yvonne and their responses are shown below:
Question 1: If you could give me a word or phrase that best describes Yvonne what would it be?
Rachel Krabacher: "excels at everything she does"
Isolde Hannan: "Steadfast"
Paige Vargas: "All around leader"
Brigid Campbell: "A hard working, competitive, and kind-hearted female athlete"
Shayne Brown: "intelligent and competitive"
Question 2: What will you miss the most of having Yvonne as a teammate?
Rachel Krabacher: "I'll miss Yvonne as a friend the most, but our team will definitely miss her leadership"
Paige Vargas: "her attitude on and off the court was always positive and she was a very determined person"
Isolde Hannan: "She was always a voice of wisdom and a leader on and off the court so it's a little strange not having that around all the time."
Brigid Campbell: " I will miss the personalized energy she brought to the gym everyday in practice. She was always ready to get better and push her teammates to get better with her. I will also miss her as a leader, always setting the tone and example for a great practice.
Shayne Brown: "Yvonne's leadership"
Question 3: What will you remember the most about playing with Yvonne?
Rachel Krabacher: I'll remember the most how Yvonne and I have developed a great friendship over the years, especially during the last one. There are so many funny stories and memories it's tough to pick one
Paige Vargas: "her presence on the court cannot be replaced"
Isolde Hannan: "She was always the person you could look to or count on when things got tough. When things were looking down playing wise, we knew who the ball would go to and we trusted her".
Shayne Brown: "Her incredibly intense competitiveness"
Brigid Campbell: "I will remember hitting lines with her and always hitting that first ball before a match. I will also remember all of the help and pointers she gave me throughout the season about being an outside hitter for Coach".
Yvonne had a tremendous senior season and everyone including Yvonne could wonder what if she had been healthy for four years. When asked about this Yvonne replied:
"I always just wanted to get back to playing. I feel like I had something to give this team and this program and more importantly I wasn't ready to give up the sport I love. I absolutely loved my senior year and am so happy to have been given the opportunity to play this past season. I'm very thankful I was able to end my career on a healthy note. It's hard to not feel a bit cheated out of my soph and jr years but at the same time that's what allowed me to be able to be a part of the team this year. I'm a big believer in Everything happens for a reason".
During the time that Yvonne has played for UD the local fan attendance has at least doubled and possibly tripled by my non technical viewing of the crowd. "I think it's great that the community is getting more involved in our program and that our support has grown. It means a lot to us to have the support and I hope it continues to grow as we get more and more recognition as a top program".
I believe that fans are always interested in knowing how playing for UD has impacted the players and Yvonne said "I think a better question is how it has not impacted me. Over the past 5 years I have grown in so many ways. Met many wonderful people and have learned so much on and off the court".
My final question for Yvonne was what she would tell a potential volleyball player about attending UD and she replied:
"I would honestly tell them that UD it is the best place on earth and you would be stupid to pass up the opportunity to play here".
As is the case with college athletes we must now must bid Yvonne a fond and respectful "May you live long and prosper". And the same goes for her great parents who will also be missed around UD volleyball.
The previous article on Yvonne's successful battle against knee injuries can be found at the link below: