By Anna Wilson
With few upperclassmen returning to play for the Franklin volleyball team, head coach Mary Helak really relies on them to lead her young squad.
“Hopefully, they’ll just continue to get better and continue to grow as leaders and mature as student-athletes,” she said. “That’s our hope.”
Helping lead the Grizzlies this season is junior captain Brooke Stamper.
“Brooke is a pretty awesome captain,” Helak said. “She does a great job in anything she does on campus.”
And Helak said she thinks Stamper’s classmates Jordan Finke and Montanea Daniels will step up to help guide the team.
“The small number of upperclassmen we have are doing a good job of trying to help the freshmen and sophomores come along,” she said. “We have some freshmen that are kind of learning the ropes. I think once they get some more practice under their belts, it will help them as well.”
Franklin’s second captain this season is sophomore Mackenzie Wieneke, who will fill the position as a younger player.
“Our program is still rebuilding,” Helak said. “We have brought in some stronger recruiting classes, but we need to continue to do so. I really enjoy coaching the kids that we have. I think they do all the right things as far as academics, and I think they make good decisions outside of volleyball.”
Helak started her coaching season with a trip to California with the Grizzlies, taking on some of the top teams in the country during the Pacific Coast Classic.
“We were playing against teams that are the top 25 of the country,” she said. “Chapman, that we played, was ranked 18th, and we were four points away from taking a game from them, which I think is huge for our program.”
“The teams in our conference, the teams at the top, are competing against those teams, too. If we can play with them, I think we can play with anybody. We just have to finish matches.”
Sophomore Kourtney Settle made a strong appearance for Franklin in the Pacific Coast Classic for the first matches of the season.
“I think Kourtney is going to be a big player for us,” Helak said. “Her and Jordan were probably our best hitters as far as statistics go.”
Helak has enjoyed coaching this group of girls this season and said she hopes they will continue to help turn the program around while achieving the goals they have set for themselves.
“If we can finish .500 and in top six in our conference, that would be awesome for us,” she said.