As the Saying Goes - Schipper Leads by Example

Oct. 25, 2009

Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the Oct. 20 edition of the Official Sports Report (OSR) for the University of Iowa. OSR is a daily e-newsletter exclusively about the Iowa Hawkeyes. Click HERE to learn more.

IOWA CITY, IA – There is an old Japanese proverb, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” You can find it more than five million times when running a Google search. You can also find it tattooed near the ankle of Megan Schipper.

The senior captain on the Iowa volleyball team became inspired by the verse when her sister, Mallory, returned from a trip to Korea with a poster that promotes the resilient quote. Words Head Coach Sharon Dingman finds emblematic of her team leader.

“I don’t think you could find something more fitting for Schip, she keeps coming back and coming back,” said Dingman. “After a bad match she always seems to rally, pull herself together and have a great match. It’s a great saying for persistence.”

It’s also a phrase that could apply to a program not without its struggles prior to Dingman’s arrival in 2008. The volleyball team combined for just three conference wins during Schipper’s freshman and sophomore seasons, but that total doubled during her junior campaign, Dingman’s first with the Hawkeyes.

“That’s one of those things that this team and this program need to be about,” said Dingman. “We talk a lot about consistency, but you have to have a lot of persistence too.”

That persistence has carried over onto the court and is gradually paying dividends. In 2008, Iowa recorded more conference wins than any team since 2000. The Hawkeyes ended decade-long losing streaks to Wisconsin and Ohio State and posted a winning record at home for the first time in 10 years. All feats symbolic of Schipper and the Hawkeyes’ new found attitude.

“This environment has been much more positive,” said Schipper of Dingman’s arrival. “It’s fun to get excited to go to practice every day because you know you’re going to learn something new.”

It’s also fun to take the court knowing great things can happen. This season, Iowa ran off six straight victories to match the best start in program history; they won their first seven road games to become the first Iowa volleyball team to ever start the season 7-0 on the road; and on October 2, Iowa ended top-ranked Penn State’s record of 141-straight regular season set victories by winning the third frame, 26-24.

“The season has been a great experience,” said Schipper. “I have so much faith in the coaches. They have done so much for us in one or two years that I can’t wait to see what they can do in three or four years.”

In three or four years Schipper can return on Alumni Night as one of the top players to ever wear the black and gold. During Iowa’s 3-1 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten opener, Schipper became the 16th player in program history to amass 1,000 career kills.

“I think she reached the milestone through a lot of hard work,” said Dingman. “She has a motor that just doesn’t stop and that alone is going to lead to success. But on top of that she’s a pretty skilled volleyball player and a very nice athlete, so because of her work ethic and her output on a daily basis she’s developed into a very good Big Ten outside hitter.”

A very good outside hitter and a pretty good all-around player. This season, Schipper has excelled in the front row, back row and service court, leading Iowa in kills and service aces while ranking second in digs.

“In high school and in club volleyball I played all the way around (the rotation) and I loved it,” said Schipper. “But when I came to college, my defense had to improve and I didn’t quite step up. So this year, coming in I told myself I was going to work my butt off and get that back row position. To be a complete Big Ten player I felt that’s what I needed to do – play back row and be a leader all the way around for the team.”

Nearing the midway point on the conference schedule, Schipper and the Hawkeyes have had their lows, but they’ve climbed to new heights, continuing to snap records and reach milestones while laying the foundation for what she believes will be a top program in the nation’s top-rated conference.

“They’re going to be a great team. Their defense is going to be amazing. The coaches are getting some great recruits in and the people on the team right now work their tails off, so I can’t wait to see where they are in a couple years.”