Sports

Blasingame leaves legacy of character

“Encouraging.”

“Positive.”

“A role model.”

These are words used to describe Elizabeth Blasingame, or Libby as she is better known.

Blasingame, who plays middle hitter for John Brown University’s volleyball team, has spent her time at the University leading by example both on and off the court.

Though her college legacy is centered on volleyball, Blasingame, a native of Plano, Texas, didn’t take up the sport until sixth grade.

“I started playing volleyball because I had started out doing gymnastics, but I got too tall for gymnastics, so my parents thought that volleyball might be a good sport for me because you have to be tall to play,” she said.

Blasingame said that she did not initially enjoy the sport as much as she does now; however, the strength she gained from gymnastics gave her an advantage from the start.

“I could serve overhand when I first tried it,” she said. “Back then, I wasn’t very aggressive. I didn’t like to take the ball away from people. I didn’t like it as much at first, but over the years I grew to like it.”

Once she began playing volleyball, she didn’t stop. Blasingame went on to play four years of high school volleyball at Frisco Liberty High School, the latter three on the varsity team where she was a three-year letter winner, and won All-District First Team awards twice. From there, she was recruited to play at John Brown University, which she had heard about from counselors at a summer camp.

“I heard about JBU because I had been going to New Life Ranch for a while, and a lot of the counselors there were from JBU,” she said. “So I had kind of heard about it from there, but the old coach, Coach Johnson, had started recruiting me to play. I visited and really liked the team, the campus and the whole atmosphere. So I decided to come up and play here.”

In 2012, Blasingame began to play for the Golden Eagles, but her college volleyball career faced a major setback shortly after. In 2013, she tore her ACL, which she had already  hurt skiing over Christmas break.

“When I practiced, I fell on it the wrong way and I tore it,” Blasingame said. “It was really a confidence blow at the time. It affected me more mentally trying to recover from it, but I worked really hard during my recovery and came back in five and a half months and started playing again. But during the time of recovery, it was really hard because I really just wanted to be on the court with my teammates.”

As a result of her injury, Blasingame played right hitter (which is not her most skilled position) in her sophomore season. But that didn’t stop her. That year and the following year, she helped her team reach the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinals.

In 2014, she earned the award of All-Conference Second Team. Blasingame, now a senior, is currently one of the captains for the Golden Eagles.

“Libby impacts the team on many different fronts,” head coach Ken Carver said. “On the court, she is our team’s strongest blocker. Because she is a middle hitter, she has to hustle to block from pin to pin at the net. Her work ethic, level of hustle and desire to block terminate balls is constantly on display when she is on the front row. She also is one of our top offensive players as well.”

Blasingame is not only a talented player but also a valued teammate. Fellow middle hitter Molli Pugh said she is always an excellent presence on the court, whether she’s setting up a play or rousing her teammates.

“She is one of the most encouraging teammates that I’ve ever played with,” Pugh said. “She always helps me when I need help or need help with the plays. She gives me advice.”

Blasingame’s influence doesn’t stop when she walks off the court. Both Coach Carver and her teammates said she is also an excellent example for others when it comes to her character.

“Libby is an awesome friend,” outside hitter Audrey Dearien said. “She’s always there for you and she’s always putting people before herself. She’s really a servant-leader.”

“Beyond the court, Libby serves as a role model for our team as she has one of the highest GPAs on the team as well,” Carver said. “Her Christian witness and character is solid too, so to see her encouraging or praying with a teammate is pretty common.”

It is clear that Blasingame has left a positive impact on her team. She was not hesitant to express how the team has impacted her either.

“Overall the team has just been awesome,” she said. “There’s a ton of accountability, and we’re all really close friends. I’ve had a really great time.”