By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Junior defensive specialist Laura Broerman has
not made an appearance on the volleyball court this season due to an injury,
but that has not stopped her from continuing to be an important component of
the women's volleyball team.
This season, Broerman has relocated from the volleyball court to press
row to do the color commentary and analysis for every match, home and away, for
the team's radio broadcasts on GoPSUsports.com.
"It's a really cool experience," said Broerman. "You get to see the game
in a different way. I get to display my volleyball knowledge to anyone who's
listening. Maybe give them a better view of what's exactly going on, what we're
doing wrong, what we're doing right and things we can improve on from the
After Broerman discovered that she was injured and would be out for the
season, head coach Russ Rose asked her if she wanted to announce for the radio,
which would still allow her to travel with the team and be a part of the
"I was really appreciative that Penn State requested she be allowed to
travel as the announcer for the matches, and it was approved by the conference
because I think it's tough enough being her, but it's even tougher not being
able to travel," said coach Rose. "She's not allowed to play or practice, but
she's allowed to continue with her personality, her role with the group and being
able to interact with the team. I think it's one of the good things in college
athletics when it's about the players and the participation, and it's not on
winning or losing."
Even though Broerman hasn't physically played volleyball this season,
her volleyball IQ and mental skills have greatly improved throughout the
matches this year.
"It's completely outsider once I'm up in that booth with the headphones
on, so I can see exactly what the other team is doing, and I can focus more on
our team's mistakes," said Broerman. "Normally, when they're on the bench, you
may be a little partial to what's going on or that move a person's made, but
now I can take a step back and see exactly what they were supposed to do, and
what could have helped them in this situation or that situation."
Coach Rose agrees that having the ability to see a match from a
different point of view is always a valuable experience.
"I believe it would assist her by seeing the game differently on the
sidelines and watching and recognizing how she might have done it differently
if she was playing," said coach Rose. "Those things are advantageous to
players; some players are visual learners. I think it certainly gives her a different
angle to see things, and I think that's a good thing."
Before announcing each match, Broerman prepares for each opponent the
same way she would as if she would be playing the match.
"I go into [each match] a lot similar as how I would go into it as if I
was not injured this year because I still go through the scouting report," said
Broerman. "We have video we watch, so I get a feel for the team, like their
tendencies, what kind of hitter they are, who's their better passer, so kind of
the same way, but I also have to go with a more outsider's perspective rather
than so intimate."
Broerman began playing volleyball at a very young age after watching her
two older sisters, Sarah and Rachel, play the sport. She was always by her
sisters' sides during their practices. When a club volleyball facility opened
up right down the street from Broerman's neighborhood, she knew she had to sign
"My sisters set a great path for me," said Broerman. "They're such great
examples to give me something to compete against every day."
Sarah and Rachel have constantly supported and guided Broerman
throughout her life in volleyball. But the three of them share a something else
in common - all three have sustained the same injuries. This creates a bond
that only the Broerman sisters can understand.
"It's just, unfortunately, a really bad trend in our family, this type
of injury, so we kind of know how each other are feeling and what body
capabilities we're able to do or not able to do at certain time frames," said Broerman.
"We're really good at being able to sympathize and also push each other in
rehab. They make sure I'm doing my rehab every day, and to making sure I
measure how far back I am and really pushing myself to get back [on the
In addition to pushing Broerman to get back on the volleyball court, Sarah
and Rachel have supported her in what she is doing this season. Her sisters have
listened to almost every single one of the radio broadcasts for the volleyball
matches this season.
"They've been begging me to give them a shout out, but I haven't really
yet," said Broerman. "There hasn't been the right opportunity, but they said a
lot of the times, they would mute the TV or BTN, and turn on my radio version,
so it's cool that they support in something even where I'm not playing."
Nonetheless, Broerman, a biology major, does not have plans to switch to
the broadcast journalism major anytime soon.
"I'm definitely a math and sciences kind of person," said Broerman.
"Broadcast has been completely out of my dimension...It's nothing that I had ever
seen me doing, anything like that in the future, but it's cool. It could be a
hobby in the future, we'll see."
Broadcast journalism might not be something that Broerman is interested
in, but after doing color commentary and learning more about the Penn State
women's volleyball team and other collegiate volleyball teams, she envisions a
future in coaching.
"I actually didn't want to go into coaching until a little bit ago, and
being up [in press row], I can definitely see a little more coaching ability in
me," said Broerman. "I see the game. I can communicate what they can do to
change it, and it's kind of made me want to be a coach a little more."
Even with the constant support and encouragement, it can be difficult to
not have a personal connection with everything that happens on the court.
"It's definitely really hard to separate my emotions on the radio," said
Broerman. "There are times where I watch myself wanting to yell a curse word or
two, and having to hold it back and trying to be impartial. You see me antsy up
there, or I'll be shaking my fist. I'll be happy when someone does something
well and upset when something doesn't go our way, so it's definitely really
hard to separate those emotions. I think the biggest thing that helps me is
Jack (Milewski), who does the [play-by-play] with me. He's really good about
knowing when I'm a little too close to a play, and he'll take the lead from
There are times when Broerman wishes she was on the court to be there
for her teammates, but the group has a connection that can't be avoided.
"My favorite part is that a few people on our team, every single game,
will give us a few code words or words to say on the radio, like a funny word,
like aglet or some catchphrase or something like that," said Broerman. "It's
really cool to watch, and also have key words that I can incorporate into it."