Athlete of the Week: Bridget Wilhelm


Kent State’s Junior middle blocker Bridget Wilhelm goes up for a spike during their game against MAC opponents Ohio University in the M.A.C. Center on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. The flashes lost the game 3-1 bringing their overall record to 12-12.

Jimmy Miller

Last week, Kent State’s senior middle blocker Bridget Wilhelm earned the Mid-American Conference East Division Offensive Player of the Week honors for the fourth time in her career. Her 37 kills and .424 hitting percentage paced the Flashes to a 2-2 record at the Maryland Invitational. This weekend, Wilhelm and company won a share of their own Golden Flashes Invitational with impressive wins over Albany and Oakland. Wilhelm sat down with me prior to their Flashes Classic to talk about what the honors meant to her, the new-look Flashes offense and what it’s like to play in front of a home crowd.

Q: First of all, tell me what being MAC Offensive Player of the Week means to you. I know this is something that you’ve had four times now, right? 

A: Yes. It’s exciting for bringing recognition to the team as a whole. I think, obviously volleyball is a sport where, specifically, you can’t have one player and do well, so it takes all of us. So that award is not just for me, it’s for the whole team I think. But it does mean a lot. 

Q: So (last)
weekend you
guys went out to Maryland, and you guys split 2-2. Tell me a little bit about going out there and some of the lessons you took away from (the trip).

A: Well, we did split 50-50, and we come back, and people are like, “What happened?” For us, that’s a great weekend. We knew going into this preseason, we were playing some tough teams and it was our first time playing someone other than ourselves. We had a Blue and Gold Scrimmage, but it’s completely different when you’re playing players that you don’t know before. I think winning our first match was something we haven’t done the whole time I’ve been here, so that was exciting. We dropped the next (match), but we played really well, and we learned how to push through and persevere together, so I think we were happy with that. We beat Duquesne, which was huge. We’ve played them a few other times, and they’re a great team. They’re a great program with very good players, and that was a big win for us. And then Maryland, playing a Big 10 (Conference) team was really exciting. We haven’t seen size like that in a while, and all very athletic kids. Just playing at that speed was something different for us, and it’s going to help us (moving forward). 

Q: Completely different team from last year; it seems like you guys lost a lot of seniors. Tell me a little bit more about what you’ve learned about your team that may differ from your 2014 team.

A: We lost seniors, but not all of them were starting, and we still have practice teams that are strong. It makes no difference on our team culture— it’s still pretty much the same. We all work just as hard; we have the same work ethic. We do miss those players, but as people, we really have a deep bench this year, and we know that if we have (substitutions), we know they’re going to come in and do their jobs, and that’s the same as it was last year. 

Q: I know coach (Don Gromala) was talking about having a faster offense this season. Is that something you noticed this weekend?

A: Oh yes, we sped our offense up a lot. We’re moving faster as blockers, especially offensively, playing against each other (helped because) some of the other teams were slowing their offense down compared to us and it felt easier. I think that was part of the reason that we (scrimmaged.) We don’t have a whole lot of height in the front row anymore. I mean, we’re not small by any means, but it’ll be nice to speed up and be faster than the other team.

Q: Coming home, I know last year you guys stressed so much about playing at home and playing in front of the home crowd. Is that still important to you guys?

A: Oh, absolutely. We’re so excited for this weekend, especially after the first week of school, everyone’s still getting back into things, and it’ll be great to have our families there. We’ll all be eating together, hanging out, and it’s great to be able to show other teams how proud we are to be at home. We’re really lucky to be at home this weekend. 

Jimmy Miller is a Senior Editor for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]