2004 Maurice Batie Award of Excellence Recipient
2004 Recipient Callie Kunde with Monica Laird 2003 Recipient.
The following speech was made by 2003 Mo Award winner, Monica Laird on June 10, 2004 as she presented the 2004 Maurice Batie Award of Excellence.
Like many of you older players sitting here in front of me I have a portion of wall in my room dedicated to various MVP, all conference, and team spirit awards. That’s what happens when you get to be as old as me. For you younger players it’s only a matter of time before you have your own wall of fame. Mine is a small chunck of space behind my door, but there is another piece of wall in my room that is out in the open and on it I have just three items displayed prominently, a framed picture of my college team from this fall and two awards of excellence named after two phenomenal figures in the world of volleyball, Maurice Batie and Flo Hyman.
I never could have won the second award without achieving the first. When I was awarded the Mo last year I remember shaking when I touched the podium, I was in such shock. Walking alongside Ellisa Johnson, a friend many of you know with whom I shared the honor, I felt so unworthy. Rather there were so many others just as worthy or worthier than I. I was extremely honored but remember thinking still “Are You guys sure about this?” there must be some kind of mistake.
You always see people like Julia Roberts at the Oscars say it was just so humbling, but what they don’t tell is that such an award can lift you up to a new level of confidence. An extra boost was just what I needed before heading off to college. My assistant coach at Southern Illinois had the article about my receiving the Maurice Batie award printed out, enlarged, laminated, and hung it on my locker. Throughout pre-season I would glance at it any time I felt particularly discouraged after a tough practice, which was just about every day, and that shot of confidence would come back to me. I ended up winning my college’s preseason award of excellence as voted by my teammates. Southern Illinois version of the Maurice Batie Award called the Flo Hyman Award. If it wouldn’t have been for the “Mo”, I would have never gotten the “Flo”.
That’s why I’m so excited to see what the future of this year’s recipient will be.
When Curt first asked me to speak at this banquet, and I subsequently gave in so I would get a free dinner, he told me who won it and I just nodded and grinned on the phone because this athlete is so perfect for this award. No doubt her reaction will be a little different since this young woman is never at a loss for words.
Mo talked about “good people” and she is certainly that. She comes from a great family with parents who are highly supportive. This athlete is a wonderful teammate and is extremely dedicated to her team and to the Northern Lights program as a whole.
Adam talked about someone being a “Player” in Mo’s terms, and this year’s honoree really embodies that word in every sense. She’s had people tell her that she wasn’t going to make it as a volleyball player. She’s had to ride the pine a number of times. Stuff that might get an ordinary person down, but not a player like her. She has never given up. One of her former coaches described her as a fighter and I completely agree with that.
She’s a fighter, she’s a competitor, and she’s a “Player”. Besides having that basic mentality, she’s developed quite an array of physical skills. She’s been described by her coach as a shot artist, someone who can continually stun me with her well placed hits. She’s extremely versatile, not only is she an offensive weapon but she plays solid defense and passes very well. She has a killer serve and she can even set the girl just does it all.
One of my favorite memories of Maurice Batie was when I played on 14-1’s. One day Mo came all the way down to our court, on the other side of the big blue curtain that separated us little people from all the big kids. He worked with us for maybe half a practice on arm swings, it probably didn’t seem like a big deal to him at all, but I was just in awe of him that he would do this for us. It obviously impacted me, that this guy from court 1 took time to help us court 4 kids since I still remember it today.
This year’s winner is a lot like Mo in that way. It can be easy to get wrapped up in your own team and your own court and forget that one of greatest aspects of this club and the warehouse is that we have the opportunity to interact with players of all ages and all teams and truly be a unified club rather than a random assemblage of various teams.
This year’s winner didn’t succumb to such things but has embraced club unity. You’d be just as likely to see her cheering on the 12’s as cheering on her own team. She’s just so friendly and generous and alway thinking of others. Whenever I see her she asks how’s my sister Sophie’s team is doing, or how my mom is or what has Geno been up to lately?
I’ve been fortunate enough to know this person for the past 5 years or so, and through countless setters practices, days behind the concessions counter, and nights in the gym together I feel that I’ve gotten to know her well enough to say ..