For the first time since Bakeer Ganesharatnam took over as coach in Spring 2011, there is only one freshman on the Owls’ roster — outside hitter Dana Westfield. Instead of bringing in a full recruiting class of high school seniors, Temple added two transfers with Westfield.
“We’ve known this was gonna be a complicated process for a couple years,” Ganesharatnam said. “The whole team has helped out with her transition. [Westfield] has been working hard in practice every week to get adjusted to college volleyball.”
Sophomore middle blocker Iva Deak and junior setter Kyra Coundourides are the other new faces on Temple’s team this season. Both transferred to Temple, so they have experience balancing school and volleyball.
Because there is no one going through the same transition as Westfield, she has used the whole team to help her.
“When we first got here for summer practice Kyra really helped me since we were some of the new faces at practice,” Westfield said. “But since classes started and I’ve gotten to know everyone, they’re all open to helping me with questions I have.”
Westfield grew up in Champaign, Illinois, home to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In her time there, she grew tired of the area. When she had to decide where to attend school, Westfield wanted to go somewhere where she could explore and find new things to do.
“Coming here to Temple, there is always something going on,” Westfield said. “That was something I had to get used to. In Philadelphia, I can actually do stuff in my free time, where if I stayed at the University of Illinois I’d just stay at home more.”
After committing to Temple in her junior season of high school, Westfield had to make a decision on what her major was going to be. Since Temple has more than 140 majors, she had plenty of potential educational pathways. Ultimately, she chose to major in education.
“I had periods of time when that is all I wanted to do was being a teacher, since my mom is also a teacher,” Westfield said. “So I’ve always had the urge to be a teacher, especially seeing teachers every day at school I always knew that was something I could do.”
Westfield has yet to see game action this season. But the freshman takes pride in being vocal on the bench, as well as taking in what happens on the court. The tougher practices and learning from the starters has made her transition into college easier on the court.
Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at email@example.com or @_kevinschaeffer.