Kent State volleyball players celebrate Heroes’ Week

Josh Johnston

Team remembers their heroes as they head to Air Force Academy Tournament in Colorado this weekend

A hero is someone who “goes above and beyond in order to help other people,” said Katie Veatch, a junior setter on the Kent State volleyball team.

When the Flashes think of their heroes, they often look to their families.

This week Kent State focused on its heroes in celebration of Heroes’ Week, which honors the memory of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11. The Flashes will keep their heroes in mind this weekend as they travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., for the Air Force Academy tournament.

Veatch said she sees her mom as a hero because of her college volleyball career.

“Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a volleyball player,” Veatch said. “My mom was a college setter too. She was my coach my whole life, so I always wanted to be her.”

Veatch’s mom taught her the benefits of hard work, she said.

“You did your work,” Veatch said. “No matter what you did, you did it to the best of your ability. That was our big thing at our house.”

Freshman Maigan Larsen called her grandfather a hero. Larsen said she relates to “Grandpa Larsen” because he was also a college athlete. Her grandfather died when she was 7 years old, but the memory of him drives Larsen when volleyball gets tough.

“I always pictured him looking at me like, ‘Maigan, don’t you dare give up,'” she said. “He’s always pushing me because he always pushed himself.”

Even though she was young when her grandfather died, Larsen said she can still remember some details about him.

This Weekend

KENT STATE (5-1) at AIR FORCE

ACADEMY TOURNAMENT

Where: Colorado Springs, Colo.

When: 3 p.m. today vs. Air Force (1-6),

7 p.m. today vs. North Carolina Central (0-7),

1 p.m. tomorrow vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (1-5),

7 p.m. tomorrow vs. Florida Atlantic (5-2)

“As much as he was really serious, he was always a prankster,” she recalled. “He was always doing stupid little jokes. He was always strict, but he was always there to look out for us.”

Kent State coach Glen Conley said his father, a former football coach, inspired the way he coaches.

“He let the players play the game,” Conley said. “He always said the game was for the players. It’s not for the coaches, so let the players make as many decisions as they can.”

Conley said he tries to do the same for the Flashes by having setters call offensive plays and defensive specialists call defensive plays.

Not all the Flashes’ family heroes were sports figures, however. Senior Vaiva Laniauskas said her heroes were her grandparents, who are immigrants from Lithuania.

The couple risked their lives fleeing their homeland during World War II to come to America, she said. Through her grandparents’ experiences, she learned to persevere in life and love her family.

For junior Brianne Wille, her aunt is a hero because of her strong faith.

“She’s had cancer,” Wille said. “It’s gone right now, but she’s had it six times. Through it all she still praises God.”

Wille said her aunt’s strength during her illness has been an encouragement.

“I want to stay strong in my faith when it comes to hard times,” she said. “Turning to God is probably the best thing you can do instead of saying, ‘This sucks; my life is horrible.'”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected]