Organized Columbia College volleyball team moves on to AMC semifinals

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 | 10:41 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The binders are never far.

The penalty for a missing team binder — or for anything left behind, really — is singing in front of the team.

The Cougars volleyball team is organized and disciplined, and it shows in the players' daily habits and in the team's 26-9 record. Columbia College hosted and defeated Lyon College in the quarterfinals of the American Midwest Conference volleyball tournament Tuesday, 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-10). The win secured a home game against Freed-Hardeman on Thursday night in the semifinals.

The Cougars take organization seriously.

Colorful tabs stick out from their 2-inch binders, neatly partitioning the sections: Player information. NAIA Champions of Character core values. Program expectations. Goals. X's and O's. Scouting. Media and etiquette. Itineraries go in the front pocket.

The back of coach Melinda Wrye-Washington's binder is stuffed with scouting reports. She needs a bigger binder, she said.

The binders are expected to go everywhere with the players.

"Erin Pavlin probably has it glued to her back," Wrye-Washington said. (Wrye-Washington said Pavlin is notorious for losing things.)

In Wrye-Washington's program, there's a consequence for not doing what you're supposed to do. In this case, the transgression is forgetting your binder.

"Say I were to walk out and leave that," Wrye-Washington said, gesturing to her binder on the table. "I would be so singing."

One player, Wrye-Washington said, sang her national anthem. Another sang "I'm A Little Teapot."

What does the coach sing? She grabbed her binder and hugged it. She hasn't had to sing in awhile.

"I don't think anybody needs to hear that, anyway," she said.

The discipline pays off, on and off the court.

Junior Sarah Schwentker has loved sports for years but said she started using a planner when she got to Columbia College as a sophomore transfer student. Wrye-Washington called Schwentker "meticulous" and said she'll join several of her teammates as an Academic All-American this year. Schwentker will take the lessons she's learned in the program into her post-college life, something Wrye-Washington encourages.

"Eventually they're gonna have families and kids, and if they can't time-manage then, I can tell them from experience that they're going to have problems," Wrye-Washington said.

In the meantime, they'll keep putting their organizational skills to use at Columbia College.

Supervising editor is Nina Pantic.

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