A Veteran Newcomer: Megan Courtney
Oct. 4, 2012
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
She can block, she can pass, she can serve and she can swing.
And she's only a freshman.
Megan Courtney is one of the newest weapons in Penn State's arsenal this year, but if you saw her in action you might not guess that she is only 18. Courtney has appeared in every match that the Nittany Lions have played this season.
Penn State head coach Russ Rose said that even four years ago, when Courtney was just a freshman in high school attending one of his team's summer camps, her confidence on the court matched many of his All-Americans' who were running the activities.
"If you would have had to pick out the girl that was 15, other than the fact that she had that same frail-looking-nature body, her game didn't cry out, `I'm a child playing with adults,'" said Rose.
The Dayton, Ohio native had a lot of practice dominating on the court during high school, leading Archbishop Alter to the semifinals of the OHSAA State Tournament three times as a three-year captain. Courtney garnered top volleyball accolades as the Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year and weighed in at the fourth-ranked overall recruit in the nation.
"She's like a lot of the top young players," said Rose. "They're just really good volleyball players. They have good skills, they have a good volleyball IQ and that really was one of the things that I liked."
And behind every standout young player there is almost always a motivator or an instructor that has helped them along the way.
For Courtney, that person is her 22-year-old brother, Robbie.
"He taught me everything I know," said Courtney.
Robbie recently graduated from Quincy University after playing four years of collegiate volleyball and is currently a volunteer assistant with the Xavier women's volleyball team in Cincinnati, Ohio.
As a teenager, Courtney said that she watched her only-brother's every move and just seemed to follow most of them.
"We're really close as far as volleyball and everything else but he was definitely my role model when I was growing up," said Courtney. "He's four years older than me so he was playing and then I was playing so he was always the person I looked to."
Courtney said that Robbie is the first person she calls if she is having problems in the classroom, with her friends and most especially on the court. She said that her brother can give her an inside perspective on most things, since he coaches a lot of female collegiate volleyball players now.
And in Robbie's opinion, all of his hard work teaching his sister how to play volleyball has paid off. "He says that I'm better [than him]," said Courtney. "But I think he's better just because he's a guy."
Courtney's parents, Sharon and Rob, have been equally supportive and encouraging of their daughter's collegiate choices. In fact, Courtney said that sometimes the two can't agree who is the better cheerleader.
"My mom says that my dad is my biggest fan and then my dad says that my mom is my biggest fan, so they fight over which one is happier for me," said Courtney.
But in the end, Courtney said that her decision to come to Penn State was hers and hers alone. She said that her choice is one that, if she had to, she would make all over again. After coming to camps and spending time in Happy Valley, Courtney said that the campus, the high-level of education and the volleyball program were plenty to win her over.
Now that she is a part of the action, the freshman has found even more things to admire about her team.
"The work ethic that we put in every single day is a lot harder and a lot more intense than other schools," said Courtney. "We like to tell ourselves that we work harder than everyone else so as long as we have that mentality, whether we do or don't technically, we tell ourselves that and that helps."
Coach Rose said that Courtney will be challenged in her first year at the Division I level, and expects other teams to test her because she is the `young buck'. But Rose said that her wit and drive are what will keep her going.
"I'm not easy on her and she's tough," said Rose.
"[Penn State's] not for everybody and every player is not for us. I thought she had a good balance of being tough and skilled and I think she can do a lot of things to make us better."
So next match look for the tall girl with a bright pink ribbon tied in her long brown hair. She'll be swinging like a veteran, but she's still relatively new to the Penn State tradition.