By Rebecca Dann
Amanda Krampf, the new head coach of Kenyon women’s volleyball, didn’t leave collegiate life behind after graduation. After playing Division III volleyball for Gettysburg College of Gettysburg, Penn., Krampf knew she did not want to end her role in college athletics and so she began coaching in a graduate assistant position at McDaniel College in Westminster, Ma. while receiving her Masters.
“I think through my three years [at McDaniel], I realized that I really wanted to stay in college coaching,” Krampf said. “I just love the college game and being part of coaching a team. So I saw that the Kenyon job opened up and applied for it right away.”
Krampf quickly became enamored of Kenyon’s beautiful campus and excited by the prospect of its academic reputation. “When I came on campus and got to meet all of the different faculty members and some of the current players, it just confirmed that this is where I wanted to be,” she said. “Everyone was so friendly and talked so highly of Kenyon as an institution, and the girls on the team seemed extremely dedicated and excited for upcoming seasons. I knew that [this] was something that I wanted to be a part of.”
Once hired, Krampf began preparing for preseason with the goal of putting the team’s previous record behind them and beginning with a fresh start. The upperclassman and incoming first years shared Krampf’s excitement for the upcoming season, with the Ladies’ matching their new coach’s dedication and determination.
“All the returners have improved a lot and we have six great freshmen,” Co-Captain Hannah Shank ’15 wrote in an email to the Collegian. “All that brings about a new intensity to the gym that makes our practices a lot more competitive and therefore prepares us better for games.”
The Ladies rapidly ramped up their training with three practices a day starting at 7 a.m., and the players quickly felt a difference. “I think that [Krampf] came in and ran a really tough preseason, but I think she knew what we needed to work on and we’ve seen a lot of improvement,” Co-Captain Amber Kraus ’15 said.
The team’s challenging practice schedule gave newcomers and returners a chance to work together to build strong connections, both on and off the court. “I think we have a really good team dynamic this year,” Krampf said, “where [the players] all get along as friends but they come to the gym everyday with intensity and energy ready to work hard and to push each other and themselves to get better.”
Getting better is not such an easy feat.
“Our team is 50 percent freshman and a handful of returners were injured,” Kraus said, “but I think we are starting to click together well on the court.”
The Ladies left preseason feeling ready to tackle their opponents with their new skills. While their first matches were disappointing, the Ladies rallied and grabbed two wins against the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Earlham College this past weekend on Earlham’s home court in Richmond, Ind. The team won an impressive three straight games against Michigan, and only let Earlham take the first set before the Ladies took control of the court. “I know that we went zero and four, which is tough, but they were able to work hard that whole next week to come prepared for Saturday and bring home two wins,” Krampf said.
“It was great to get two wins this weekend,” Shank said. “We’ve been playing well all season, and improving game to game, so winning not just one but two matches was incredibly rewarding and helped show us that our hard work is paying off.”
Krampf emphasized the importance of the Ladies learning from their past games to incorporate new strategies and skills that will prevent them from committing the same errors. “I think definitely one of our big goals that we’ve talked about is just improving every week,” she said, “so whether it be a specific skill, or winning an extra game or a match, we just want to see that every week we’re improving and working better as a team.”
The team seems to have responded well to the new direction. “We did have our first two wins this weekend, and I think with our new coaching staff, we’ll continue that trend,” Kraus said.
“Coach Krampf and Carter [Cassell, assistant women’s volleyball coach] are very supportive and positive,” Shank said. “Even when we haven’t been successful in games, they help us focus on what went well and how we can improve. They bring a lot of energy to the team, which makes practice enjoyable. That being said, they both hold us to high standards and expect us to work hard.”
With an optimistic attitude and encouraging leadership, the Kenyon volleyball team looks stronger than ever. Krampf genuinely believes in the potential of the team and is dedicated to ensuring that the Ladies are not only successful on the court, but also in their studies and overall Kenyon experience.
“I wanted to stay involved in the game, and be able to work with young female athletes who are passionate about the sport,” Krampf said. “I think that college sports really help prepare you for life after college. They help you become confident, they help you become leader, and so to be able to be a part of that and help them out is exciting.”
The team faces three tough Ohio opponents this weekend: Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland), John Carroll University (University Heights) and the College of Mount St. Joseph (Cincinnati), but the team is confident and up for the challenge. Their training has equipped them with the skills they need to secure the win, and the Ladies are hoping to do just that.