COLUMBIA — Lindsey Hunter stands off to the far right side of the volleyball court at Hearnes Center. She's only feet from the net. She surveys the play on either side of net, sometimes choosing to get involved.
Hunter, 27, is the new assistant coach at Missouri and for now stays more reserved during practice. On most occasions, she allows the other coaches to speak up. She wears a gray T-shirt that blends in with the uniforms of the rest of the players on the court.
At Bender Arena in Washington, D.C.
Missouri vs. Western Kentucky, 3:30 p.m.
Missouri vs. Villanova, 12:30 p.m.
Missouri vs. American, 6 p.m.
Hunter said that her age makes it tough when it comes to demanding things from players but she knows that she still has credibility in the locker room. Every day the players on the volleyball team walk by a picture of Hunter from her playing days. Hunter was a setter for the Tigers from 2002 to 2005, earning All-American honors her senior season.
"It's hard for me to be like the stern one, like you have to do this. Give me fifty sit-ups," Hunter said.
Hunter said that she's there because she can relate to the players. Hunter acts like a confidant more than a friend.
"I am somebody they (players) can have a good conversation with and maybe say things that they wouldn't tell others," Hunter said.
Hunter remembers when she received a call last winter from Missouri head coach Wayne Kreklow asking her if she was interested in being an assistant. Chris Muscat had resigned from his position to take the head coaching job at Loyola (Chicago). At the time, Hunter was playing in Puerto Rico with Valencianas de Juncos and gave Kreklow a simple answer.
"I said absolutely," recalled Hunter, who said that she was interested in the job before then.
Hunter said she enjoyed her time at Missouri, which might explain her succinct answer. She said that Kreklow and the other assistant coaches were straightforward with her when they recruited her to come play at MU and that has not changed now that she is a coach.
"With Wayne, Susan (Kreklow), and Deng Yang, what you see is what you get," Hunter said.
She lights up when she talks about some of her experiences during her playing time at Missouri. She specifically talks about her sophomore year when Missouri beat Nebraska in front of a sold-out, hostile crowd at the NU Coliseum and Missouri's run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament in 2005. She recalls defeating Hawaii and having pride that Missouri had never made it to the Elite Eight before.
Off the court, Hunter laughs about how the Missouri teams she played on used to play the card game Phase 10 all the time or have dinner parties before a big game. She gets excited when she talks about how her old teams spent time together watching a movie.
While Hunter had success as a setter at Missouri, she also played internationally. She said playing in Puerto Rico was something totally different than playing in college.
"You're playing as a job. You're not playing to get your education paid and to have fun," Hunter said.
Hunter said she does not plan on playing for another international team and is happy to be an assistant coach at Missouri.