April 30, 2015

NDSU Volleyball Adds Jennifer Lopez as Assistant Coach

FARGO, N.D. – North Dakota State University head volleyball coach Kari Thompson announced Thursday, April 30, that former Bison standout Jennifer Lopez will join the NDSU staff as an assistant coach.
Lopez most recently served as the head girls' volleyball coach at Oak Grove Lutheran High School in Fargo for the 2013-14 season and as an assistant coach at West Fargo Sheyenne High School for 2014-15. She has also been highly involved in area instructional camps and club volleyball.
"I'm excited about the addition of Jen to our staff and eager to get her on the bench and back into the Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse," said Thompson. "Jen is a competitor. She possesses a calling to teach and mentor and a passion for coaching volleyball. Her experience as a competitive student-athlete and her pride in Bison athletics make her a perfect fit for our program."
Lopez was the Summit League Setter of the Year, Player of the Year and Tournament MVP in 2011 as a senior for the Bison. She was a three-time All-Summit League selection, leading NDSU to four straight regular season league titles and three NCAA Tournament appearances from 2008-11.
"I am extremely excited and humbled to be back at NDSU and to work with the volleyball program," Lopez said. "I am grateful for Coach Thompson and the opportunity to pursue my passion for coaching volleyball and helping others further develop their skills on the court."
"Being able to give back to the university that did so much for me as a student-athlete is very rewarding," said Lopez. "The values and standards that NDSU upholds are a part of who I am, and I hope I can continue to instill the tradition of success and hard work in developing young women. The positive impact that NDSU has had on my life is one that I hope I am able to provide to our kids during their time spent at NDSU."
Lopez will serve as NDSU's offensive coordinator, overseeing the technical training and skill development combined with play calling and decision-making at the setter position.
"Jen knows what it takes to be successful here at NDSU, specifically in the setting position, and our student-athletes will benefit immensely from her as an assistant coach," Thompson said.
Lopez, a Glyndon, Minn., native, ranks among the NDSU all-time top 10 in total assists, assists per set and digs per set.
She graduated from NDSU in 2014 with a degree in mathematics education and a minor in coaching. 

My Championship Experience -- 2015 Men's Tennis Edition

My Championship Experience is a diary blog written by Summit League student-athletes detailing their experiences at each of the 19 Championships.

Denver sophomore Alex Gasson writes about his experience at the 2015 Summit League Men's Tennis Championship:  

After a day of travel, our spirits were high as we arrived on Thursday into Fort Wayne, Ind. First order of business; the Summit League Banquet. A night where we can wear something other than sweats and actually look like a group of civilized human beings. The night began with opening speeches and dinner, both of which were wonderful. After we had stopped gorging, we began with the awards ceremony. This part of the night was fantastic as so many members of each team were recognized for all their hard work and effort throughout the regular season. It was an honor walking up with my co-captain and doubles partner Henry Craig to receive the regular season champion’s trophy on behalf of our team. We also were lucky enough to receive a speech that outlined the “Seven components of a championship team”, a speech that did a great job in outlining the characteristics and requirements that any winning team needs to have. After the banquet we went straight back to work; no rest for the wicked. We practiced from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. … we slept well that night.

The following day (Friday) consisted of two practices, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The entire team was striking the ball great as we worked through our regular ‘on-the-road’ drills. After practices were done we all had a solid two hour break before we would have to freshen up and get ready for dinner. I’m sure I speak for the whole team when I say we spent every minute studying and most definitely did not take a nap… For dinner we accompanied the Denver Women’s Team to Biaggi’s for another good meal. Both the women and us had just found out who we would be taking on in the semi-finals; Oral Roberts for us and South Dakota for the women. After an inspirational team talk back at the hotel we all returned to our rooms to rest up for our 10 am face-off against ORU. Preparation had begun.

Saturday started with a 7 a.m. wake up. Surprisingly perky, we headed to the indoor facility at 8:15am after breakfast where our semi-final would take place. Banter was flying as we made the finishing touches to our preparation; applying fresh grips, filling up water bottles etc. We felt good, we felt ready. Also working in our favor was the crowd, or rather one member of it. Our Athletic Director Ron Grahame had taken a detour from his work trip to come and support us in our semi-final. This gave us even more wind beneath our wings as we went on to take the doubles point in a storming fashion. Transferring the momentum over into singles play, we took 6 first sets. Our #4 David Fox (Foxy) would get the second point on the board, followed by our #2 Diogo Rocha (Diogz) tallying us up to 3-0. Henry Craig (Hank) would clinch the victory for Denver as he swept his way to a straight sets victory at the #1 position. We were in the finals, but we weren’t done yet.

After an afternoon of supporting the women through their semi-final victory over USD, we returned to the hotel to catch up on our studies. For real this time. Dinner consisted of typical pre-match food; pasta. Feeling good about our win but not getting ahead of ourselves, we discussed the final. We knew IPFW were an extremely worthy foe as they had proven more than difficult in the final last year. We were expecting their very best as any team plays exponentially better when in front of their home crowd. We went to bed itching with excitement for the opportunity to take them on.

Sunday started just as Saturday had; 7 a.m. wake up, head to the courts at 8:15 and start our final preparation. After the national anthem, we huddled in. Very few words were said as we knew what we had to do. A loud home crowd and one or two controversial issues brought the best out of the guys, we responded with high focus and high energy taking the doubles point with wins at #2 and #3. Going into singles we knew it was far from over, there was still a lot of work to do. But I could not be more proud of how we came out as one unit and kept the momentum in our favor. I took the first win at #3 singles to give us the 2-0 lead. Henry would carry us to 3-0 with another straight sets victory at #1. Diogo would extend his extremely impressive record and bring home the clinch and give us the automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. We were going to the big dance!

After we had been through the formalities and took a well-deserved shower, we got behind the women’s team and saw them also claim the championship. Overall a very good weekend for Denver!  

To close, I would like to thank the Summit League and IPFW on behalf of the Denver Men’s Tennis Team for everything they have done for the championships. And that is what it felt like, a true championship tournament. 

We look forward to representing the Summit League at the NCAA tournament as we plan on making some serious noise!

Don’t forget to check out the next edition of My Championship Experience as it follows Summit League spring sports championships in May.

My Championship Experience -- 2015 Women's Tennis Edition

My Championship Experience is a diary blog written by Summit League student-athletes detailing their experiences at each of the 19 Championships.


Denver senior Michelle Garpenlov writes about her experience at the 2015 Summit League Women's Tennis Championship:  


We left campus at 8 a.m. on Thursday morning to go to Indiana for our league tournament. We had a two-hour flight and road trip a head of us and we all were tired but excited about what this weekend was going to offer. We arrived about twenty minutes before our conference banquet was going to start and we rushed to get ready for it. Prizes were handed out five girls on our team made the all-league team and we won the regular season title after going undefeated through all of our matches. I (Michelle) had the honor to go up and receive our prize and it was an amazing feeling that we had won it again second year in a row. After the banquet we had tennis practice from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. After a long day of traveling we all thought that this was going to be a long and tough practice but it turned out to be one of the better ones we have had this whole year and it was so fun to see the team all fired up for the weekend. After that it was bedtime.


We got to sleep a little bit today, which means we woke up at around 8:30 a.m. and had breakfast. This day was all about practice and getting ready for tomorrows semifinal. We had practice from 10:30 a.m. till 12:00. After this we went to lunch and then we had practice for a second time from 2:00 p.m. till 4:00 p.m. The first practice we did a lot of doubles drills and match play and the second practice was more about singles. It was amazing to see how focused we were during these practices because we knew that even though we had won against all of the teams earlier in the year we wanted to be as prepared as possible for this weekend. The two goals that we set for this weekend and ourselves were effort and positivity. These were the two things that our coaches wanted us to think about when playing these other teams. After this we showered and went to dinner with University of Denver Men’s Tennis. It was fun to be able to hang out and talk to the guys because we are both going into the tournament with a target on our back, being the team that is predicted to win conference. It is never easy being the favorite to win and many people have high expectations on you so the dinner worked as a little break from thinking about conference. After dinner most of us went to our rooms and either did some homework or watched TV before going to bed.


Today is the day we play league semifinals. We all woke up and had breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Since the weather was really bad and it was raining, the matches were moved indoors. Our match was scheduled at 2:00 p.m. After breakfast most of us went back to bed and got another hour and half of sleep before getting ready to leave for lunch. Once we had lunch we went straight to the courts where we were going to play our match. This is where we had hit on Thursday night so we all knew how the courts are, which is always a comfortable feeling. We warmed up and hit for an hour before our match and there was a lot of positive energy coming from everyone on the team. We were all pumped up, excited and ready to go for our match. We started with doubles and all of us played very well. We clinched our matches at number one and two doubles so they got done first. After we realized we won the doubles point we all gathered around to get mentally prepared for the singles matches that were a head of us. We all felt good and everyone who was playing singles did their own thing for about five minutes to prepare themselves. We got good leads on all courts and Evy [Van Genechten] was the one who clinched the win 4-0. It was great feeling but also a relief to have completed our first match and knowing that we are in the final. We worked hard and had positive attitudes throughout the whole day, which lead to success. We want to give credit to South Dakota for competing hard that day. After this we had dinner and as the day before we all went to our rooms and did whatever we had to do to prepare for the next day.


The league final has finally come and the day started with breakfast at 8:30 a.m. As the day before our match time was at 2 p.m. or as soon as the boys finished up their match. After breakfast we went back to our rooms, dressed into our match outfits and packed our bags. We left the hotel at 11 a.m. to get lunch and go watch the men’s conference final. This time the weather was better and we were able to play outside. It was fun seeing the guys play and they did really well. Once they had won the conference title we got on the courts and warmed up for our match. We warmed up and went through our normal routine before matches. The energy was on top and we were all excited about the match and challenge that was a head of us. Doubles started at 1:30 p.m. and as yesterday we played very good doubles. Charlotte [Derbyshire] and I clinched the doubles point and gave the team a 1-0 lead. We all gathered around for another pep talk before heading out for singles. Looking up at the scoreboard we were up on all courts in the first set by a lot. Our team was playing very well today and probably the best we had played against a conference team all year. It was very exciting and fun to watch. Everyone was doing the two goals we set for ourselves before the weekend, positive and effort. This time Charlotte was the won who got to clinch the match with a 6-3 6-1 victory. We all ran into a group hug and it was a great feeling. Knowing that all of the hours on and off the court, the traveling and the matches we had played had prepared us for this moment. It is so worth it! South Dakota State played very well against us and it was a battle until the end. We achieved two goals in one day that we set for ourselves this year and that was to win conference and make it to NCAA and we did it. There is no way to describe the feeling of accomplishing something that you have been working for all year but we are going dancing. For some people this is their first conference victory and for others this will be their last but for all of us this is a memory that we will cherish and remember the rest of our lives. 


Don’t forget to check out the next edition of My Championship Experience as it follows Summit League spring sports championships in May.