COLUMBIA — Julie Teeple will be part of two nationally ranked teams for Columbia College.
Teeple, a freshman from Versailles, will begin playing with the 20th-ranked women's basketball team when the fifth-ranked volleyball team's season comes to an end.
Officially listed on the volleyball and basketball rosters, Teeple said she is currently focusing all her attention on volleyball. The Cougars finished the regular season 36-3 and a perfect 16-0 in the American Midwest Conference. The AMC conference tournament, which the Cougars host as the top seed, will begin 7 p.m. Tuesday night, and the winner of the tournament receives a direct entry into the NAIA national tournament.
The women's basketball team is 3-1 this season and faces Missouri Valley College at 7 p.m. Monday at home.
Cougars basketball coach Mike Davis wants Teeple to focus on just volleyball for now.
“We want them to win ball games, and hopefully they’ll win a national championship," Davis said. "Nothing would make us happier than for she and the volleyball team to do that.”
Teeple said she has always enjoyed playing volleyball and basketball. At Morgan County High School she was a three-time conference player of the year in volleyball and an all-state selection in both sports. Some told her she was better at basketball in high school, but she didn’t get along with her coach, which led her away from basketball and toward volleyball entering college.
Davis and Teeple first talked over the summer about the possibility of joining the basketball team, but they decided to wait on a decision until later in the year.
Then, just before the basketball team's picture was taken, Davis approached Teeple and asked her again about basketball.
“He kind of gave me the night to decide,” Teeple said. “I talked with my family about it, and some of them were kind of indecisive. They thought maybe I would be taking on too much, and it might be too stressful. But I went ahead and jumped on it and said I would.”
Teeple said she tries to participate with the basketball team whenever possible. She has observed a few practices, sat on the bench at one home game and lifted with the team once.
The best case scenario for the volleyball team would have its season finish Dec. 6 at the end of the national tournament. By that time, the basketball team will have played nine games and have been practicing together for well over a month.
Teeple said her trainer advised her to take a break after the volleyball season to rest her body, but the trainer knows Teeple can’t sit out for too long.
“I’ve been told that I can take a break after nationals,” Teeple said, “but being at those practices, I see how far behind I already am, and thinking I’m going to be that much farther behind, it kind of makes me want to jump right into it.”
Davis isn’t pushing Teeple to join the team too soon.
“We don’t know when she’ll start, it depends on how her body feels whenever volleyball ends,” Davis said. “Whether its right after the season or not until second semester, its something we’ll have to play by ear. We’re looking forward to getting her, but right now she’s a volleyball player.”
Teeple said she knows her teammates on the basketball team, and said they have been very welcoming.
“I really like the coaches and my teammates,” Teeple said. “I love my teammates on both teams.”
Davis said though it will be difficult for Teeple to adjust to basketball after volleyball season, he is confident in her abilities.
“Like I told her when we talked about it, you’re in the worst situation possible,” Davis said. “You’re behind, you have no leg up on anyone. But Julie is an outstanding young lady, she’s a very good athlete, and she’ll get going."