Lankford staying positive for Rebels

September 16, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

Meagan Lankford does her best to cover her part of the court during every Boyle County point, but she covers even more ground in the short time between points.

Every time the Rebels score, Lankford makes her way to virtually every teammate on the floor, greeting them with a smile and a high-five.

Even when the other team scores, Lankford is at the ready with an encouraging word, making sure her teammates turn their focus ahead to the next point.

It's part of being the only senior on the team, which has defaulted Lankford into a position of leadership this season. She said it's a part of her that doesn't really exist away from the volleyball court.


"I'm not a real loud, talkative person, but on the court, all that built-up energy comes out," Lankford said.

It's a good thing for Boyle that it does. The Rebels lost four players to graduation last year, and this year's varsity roster is heavy on sophomores and juniors, most of which came into the season with little or no varsity experience.

They needed someone to show them the way, and Boyle coach Dana Stigall said Lankford has been a perfect fit.

"She's definitely a leader," Stigall said. "She's always cheering and working on staying positive."

Being a leader in athletics comes as a surprise

That Lankford would have been a leader in any sort of athletic endeavor would have come as a surprise four years ago, even to her.

She said she never considered herself much of an athlete as a child, having given up basketball after her fourth-grade year and having dabbled in track and field as an eighth-grader.

But she said a friend encouraged her to come out for the volleyball team in her freshman year, and she has been thankful for that advice ever since.

"I have such a blast," she said.

That's evident on the court, where Lankford is seemingly always smiling, sometimes even when things aren't going Boyle's way.

She said part of that stems from her personality and her love of the game, but part of it is also an effort to keep her teammates in high spirits.

"You've got to stay positive the whole game," she said.

Stigall said Lankford isn't the only leader on the floor, noting that others are taking larger roles as the season progresses.

That's part of the development of a team that struggled in some early matches this season but now is showing signs of improvement.

"I'm really proud of our new team," Lankford said. "They have come out and worked so hard. They have done a wonderful job. I could not be more proud of any team."

One of the Rebels' most valuable players

Beyond her smiles and high-fives, Lankford is one of the Rebels' most valuable players. She is among the team leaders in aces, and she is a strong defensive player as well.

Lankford said she has become a better player by eliminating some of the mistakes she made as a younger player, when she would try to do one thing only to see herself doing something completely different.

"I feel like this year I've had a lot more control over my body," she said. "I've been able to pick myself up more from and keep from making mistakes. I don't have those freak moments as much."

Lankford's other athletic interest is as a trainer for Boyle's boys basketball team, and she said she might also work with the baseball team this spring. She said she wouldn't mind pursuing that in college, particularly if it leads to a scholarship, but it isn't what she's enjoying most right now.

"That's second to volleyball," she said.

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