Temple volleyball outside hitter dances to keep morale high

Outside hitter Dana Westfield, the team’s only senior, uses her upbeat persona to lead the team.

Senior outside hitter Dana Westfield attempts to block a ball during practice at McGonigle Hall on Sept. 16, 2019. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple volleyball’s lone senior, Dana Westfield, spent plenty of time throughout her collegiate career reflecting on the kind of leader she wants to be. 

The 6-foot-1-inch outside hitter made a conscious decision to adopt a “loud and fun” persona during freshman year when she didn’t see any playing time. Instead of sulking or being disengaged, Westfield became a vocal leader, she said. 

“It was clear that I probably was not going to play the entire season,” Westfield said. “I was like, ‘Well, what can I do about that? I can tell the hitters what’s open for them to hit, but I can also just yell and get everybody pumped up.’ And so that’s what I started to do.”

Westfield noticed her constant cheering kept the team’s morale high, she said.  

A 2017 All-American Athletic Conference Second Team honoree, Westfield is far removed as a player from the freshman who couldn’t crack the rotation, but her spirit is fundamentally the same, she said. 

The team started this season 9-0 — the best start in program history. Coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam credits Westfield’s leadership with setting a culture that has facilitated the Owls’ early success, specifically her role in picking the team’s music.

“The team chemistry, in general, is much improved,” Ganesharatnam said. “She certainly has contributed to maybe loosening up the mood a little bit through making sure there’s always music available.”

Westfield’s known for playing today’s top hits during practice, but also dancing on the sideline during games. 

She didn’t see much playing time at the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing Cherry and White Challenge on Sept. 13 and 14, but she displayed her dance moves while on the sideline.

“I think dancing is the big thing because it keeps everybody physically warm and also excited,” Westfield said. “Because even if you’re stuck on the bench for the game, the music is something that’ll help you relax or forget about your situation a little bit.”

“There’s a lot of times like if a challenge is called or something, you just look over and she’s over there dancing on the side,” said freshman mid-back Kayla Spells. “It’s the greatest thing, honestly.”

As the only senior, Westfield takes on the responsibility of helping freshman players adjust to college. 

“From the first time that we came in during the summer she was always there to help us to get integrated into the program,” Spells added. “When we first got here we were trying to go to orientation and still be able to be with the team… So, it was pretty much immediate, as soon as we got here she was there for us.”

Westfield’s leadership doesn’t take a backseat once she’s on the court. 

 “I want the ball, I really want the ball,” Westfield said. “I feel like when I do score, it’s a big difference. It helps to keep our momentum, or turn it around.”

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