Growing Together for Success

July 20, 2015
By Kelly McHugh

Former Wildcat volleyball player Dr. Heather (Lindell) Seashore (1996-99) is ready to make a difference in the world of women’s sports, and what better place to start than at her alma mater?

Seashore, partnered with world-renowned speaker, coach and business and marketing professional Sona van der Hoop, spent this past weekend in Manhattan working with the K-State volleyball team. With the goal of developing team cohesiveness and chemistry while enhancing relationships and trust, Seashore and Van der Hoop hosted the first of what they hope will become many more of their new Inspire! Athletics Consultants team clinics.

The two-day program took place at the Ahearn Fund Student-Athlete Performance Table and covered an array of topics. From team bonding sessions to leadership development to personal growth, this year’s young Wildcat team had an experience and opportunity to grow together like never before. 

“Our goal with this is to introduce a concept, do an exercise, talk about how they apply it to volleyball, then talk about how to apply it to life,” explained Seashore on how the clinic works. “In a team sport, you often gel in the last two or three weeks of a season because you’re finally getting to know each other. By the end of the season, you know each other’s motivations, you know how to talk to each other and you know your goals. Our overall goal is to create that during a team’s preseason.”

Seashore and Van der Hoop came up with the idea of clinics with women’s collegiate teams nine months ago, and it has been an exciting journey so far. Both Seashore and Van der Hoop have used their past professional experiences in team-building, women’s leadership, leadership development and more to help kick off the program. 

“I told her, ‘We just need one team that is willing to be the pilot project,’” explained Van der Hoop who has over 10,000 hours of facilitation and training as she has created countless leadership development programs. “We needed a team to demonstrate this on before we could start breaking into schools and making this for real.”

With that, Seashore made a phone call to her old coach. 

“I talked to a handful of coaches from the Pac-12 and the Big 12 to get a feel of the need for programs like this out there, and then I approached Suzie,” explained Seashore. “I told her, ‘I have a heart for K-State and here’s what I want to create in your team.’”

Knowing the opportunity this clinic presents, Fritz was all in.

“Being able to slow down outside of a competition venue and have conversations on how individual people operate is important,” said Wildcat head coach Suzie Fritz. “There are things that show up with your team that could be obstacles going forward when put under stress. So the more prepared we are now for those things the better equipped we will be to deal with them down the road.”

Seashore, a health and wellness expert, clinical pharmacist and leader in personal growth and self-development, graduated from K-State with a degree in public health and nutrition before heading home to Colorado to earn her Doctorate in pharmacy at the University of Colorado.

During her time at K-State, Seashore helped the Wildcats to a combined 86-43 record and saw four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances including the team’s first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 1996. They were years she cherished, years she learned from and years she still reflects back on today. 

“There is so much I took from my time at K-State,” said Seashore. “You could go down the list: leadership, commitment, dedication, giving everything that it takes and more. All those little lessons were learned on the volleyball court because we were experiencing them every day.

“Because Suzie values relationships so much, you do develop a family,” she continued. “I still talk to so many of my teammates, and that commitment to relationship is something that has translated into my work environment today.”

So, it should come as no surprise that Seashore was more than happy to be back where it all started last weekend – in her college town working with her former coach and team. 

Adding to the importance of establishing team chemistry and trust within the Wildcat volleyball team is the fact that there are no seniors on this year’s roster. The 2015 squad is made up of four juniors, four sophomores and six freshmen. 

“This group has at least two years together, some of them have four or five years together, and that is unbelievable,” said Van der Hoop. “To put this work into place right now – identify what it is that stops them, teach them to communicate and to work through it, what to focus on, how to deal with any conflicts, how to be honest with each other and have conversations that they don’t normally have – they’re learning to trust at a level that most of them haven’t trusted before. Trusting themselves, trusting each other, it’s going to be huge for this group.”

Added Fritz, “They know each other well because they spend a lot of time together, but they don’t’ always know what motivates their teammates, what makes their teammates tick. We’re trying to go a little deeper in terms of building those working relationships with this team, and this will give us the best opportunity to be effective.” 

Regardless of skill, if a team does not have a cohesive bond, a solid trust and team chemistry, their opportunity for success is limited. However, through the concepts and lessons taught by Seashore and Van der Hoop, the K-State volleyball team is now equipped with a mental edge that, if put to use correctly, will get them through anything. 

“If I had known the concepts that we teach when I was a player, things in my life would be different in such a positive way,” said Seashore. “These student-athletes are forming their opinions of themselves. This is the first time they’ve been out of the house, they’re choosing what major they’re going to take, what decisions they’re going to make as a volleyball player, and through this program we give them a good ground work as they move forward in their lives.”

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