Sept. 27, 2006
EAST LANSING, Mich. - When then-Western Michigan head volleyball coach Cathy George decided to take on one of the country's most elite programs at Michigan State, one of her most talented Bronco players wasn't far behind her.
In her first year at WMU, Ashley Schatzle took the Mid-American Conference by storm, leading the Broncos in kills with 355 while playing in 109 of the team's 110 games. She was named a member of the 2004 All-MAC Freshman Team for her efforts.
"I transferred to MSU because I wanted more of a challenge, and I knew that the Big Ten was one of the best volleyball conferences in the United States," the Monroe, Mich., native says. "They expected me to do well, but at the same time, I had to prove myself at this level and play to my potential."
Schatzle has done more than just prove herself, and has become the model of consistency for her teammates. She finished second on the team in kills in 2005 as a sophomore, and was among the team leaders in blocks (39) and games played (115). Schatzle said last summer was not much fun, since the transfer process is "long with a lot of pushing and arguing," but with that in the rearview mirror, the 6-1 outside hitter spent the summer of 2006 refining her game and making it more suited for Michigan State's system.
"I've worked on playing faster - we are probably one of the fastest teams in the Big Ten under Cathy's style of play," Schatzle says. "I have also worked on developing a quicker swing. My focus in the offseason was to cut down on the errors and become a more efficient player."
During the offseason, Schatzle also enhanced her training in beach volleyball for the first time, and instantly fell in love with it. Since she would like continue her playing career beyond college, and the only professional indoor leagues are in Europe, she thinks the outdoor game is the best way to do that. Plus, her game is well suited for the two-person competition.
"This summer was the first time I played a lot of beach. I played in some tournaments, and I just like the outdoors better," Schatzle says. "You think after college, there is no more volleyball, but beach is getting a lot bigger, so I definitely look forward to the opportunity to continue my career."
One of the factors that fuels her passion for the game of volleyball is her parents, who she says are her biggest influence in playing the sport. Schatzle points to her father, Ron, as a motivating factor to push her game to the next level.
"My dad really gets into it," Ashley says. "He really didn't know much about volleyball until I started playing, but now he tapes all the games and watches them and tells me things he likes. Just watching him get excited about it makes me really want to get into it more."
Now as an upperclassman, Schatzle has also become a leader off the court. Though this is only her second year in East Lansing, she is one of the veteran members of the 2006 Spartans that are compiled of seven freshman and two sophomores.
"More than anything I just want to help the underclassmen understand to take advantage of what most don't take advantage of, such as the knowledge of teammates and the level of play in the Big Ten."
After the first weekend of conference action, in which the Spartans defeated Indiana and fell narrowly to Purdue in thrilling fashion, Schatzle recorded 41 kills- good for second on the team. She also pitched in two blocks and 20 digs, placing her second on the squad in both respective categories.
In her final two years wearing the Green and White, Schatzle intends on getting her registered nursing degree, then continuing her education to become a nurse aesthetician.
By Kevin Wilson, MSU Sports Information