Humility the springboard for Skyline volleyball star’s success
Jun 15, 2020 11:56AM
By Travis Barton
Olivia Gloeckner credits her older sister, parents and coaches as her greatest influences. (Betsey Bowen Photography)
By Travis Barton | [email protected]
Humble. Unassuming. Not a showboat.
Those were just a few of the words used by her coach to describe all-state sophomore Olivia Gloeckner.
“She doesn't need all the accolades,” said Skyline head coach Mondo Begay. “That's what sets her apart the most, she doesn’t let emotion get a hold of her. She’s just happy, gets on the court, does her job and then runs off like ‘what?’”
But the accolades will come anyways for the burgeoning talent. At Skyline, the 6’1” Gloeckner was named third-team all-state as a freshman and then first-team all-state as a sophomore this past fall.
Normally a middle blocker, Begay moved her to outside hitter as a sophomore. “We challenged her to move to the outside and her numbers actually went up,” Begay said.
The middle blocker and now outside hitter finished her sophomore season with 259 kills, 56 aces, 26 blocks and 204 digs. “She’s not flashy, her numbers prove what she is,” Begay said.
And what she is, might be the perfect volleyball player.
“She's like the perfect volleyball build: long, lean, super athletic,” said Begay, who also coaches her in club. “Even when I started training her at 10 and 11, she was super athletic. She was jumping like 27 inches when she was that little.”
“She's an anomaly.”
Gloeckner joined the sport after watching her older sister play at Brighton, not initially interested in the spikes and serves. “It was just something my older sister did, but it is so fun to watch once you understand what's going on, so then I decided to play,” she said.
She played other sports when she was younger like soccer and the sport everyone wanted her to play—basketball. But it didn't last long.
“I only made one basket the whole season and it was in the wrong hoop,” Gloeckner recalled.
Staying with volleyball proved to be the right call. Begay identified her high volleyball IQ and her ability to hit any type of set as just a few of her qualities.
“She’s extremely diverse in her ability to hit all the different sets, she can hit all of them and not everybody can,” Begay said.
It’s how you hit to different areas of the court and how your hand contacts the ball, but for Gloeckner, it’s simpler than that.
“It's really all about scoring points, that's the main point of the game, and it helps to do that when you have different shots,” she said.
But her best attribute, might not even be physical.
“I feel like I'm always trying to get better,” Gloeckner said. “There's never been a moment where I thought I was pretty good. It's fun that you can always get better, I think that's the joy of sports.”
She prides herself on doing her job on the court, being someone the coach can count on. But her mindset of constant progression could be the key to her success.
“I'm probably too hard on myself, at least that's what people tell me,” Gloeckner said. “But I always feel like I should be better, which is not always the best thing. (But) I feel like it does help me improve because I'm always trying to get to the next level.”
“I've known some (players) who don't really listen and don't think they can get better, and I think it's just so important to be coachable,” she continued. “There's always someone that knows more than you and can help you. I think being receptive to that is so important for sports.”
Begay remembers a time when she thundered a spike, scoring a point the team really needed “and she just ran off the court like it was no big deal.” Rather than a guttural roar you so often see, her reaction was as if that’s what you’re supposed to do.
“I don’t like cheering for myself,” Gloeckner explained. “My team always makes fun of me for it. I love cheering loud for others, but I feel like with myself, I always expect myself to be better and do better so that's why I don't really cheer.”
As for her future in volleyball, her college recruitment is underway. Begay said Colorado State wanted her to commit when she was 14. Blue-blood program Marquette University (Wisconsin) sent an assistant coach to watch a game last fall. She’s attended camps back east in Virginia and Maryland. The 4.0 GPA student wants to take her time.
“I want to keep my options open and just see what feels right and what would be a good fit for me,” Gloeckner said. “Not trying to rush into anything.”