The Motivator: Spriggs pushes student-athletes to their peaks
This weekend, UH Volleyball will face off against the University of Connecticut Huskies in their 10th conference game. How the Cougars do in these conference games will determine their post-season rankings as well as their performance aspirations leading up to next season.
An as any athlete will tell you, behind every great team are invested, motivating and involved coaches. For the UH volleyball and women’s basketball teams — the latter of which is kicking off its season this Saturday at Hofheinz Pavilion — Sports Performance Coach Kelly Spriggs is one of these coaches. Having been a student athlete herself, she tries to reinforce the idea of incorporating athletics with all other components of students’ lives.
A rounded approach
“We really try to get the message across to them that being a student athlete is a focus on a whole entire person; it’s not just one aspect,” Spriggs said in a video featured on the UH Athletics website. “It’s not just when you’re playing; it’s not just when you’re in the classroom. You’ve got to make sure every single aspect fits together, and a big part of that is taking care of yourself.”
At Baylor University, Spriggs played right-side hitter for four years before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communications in 2006. She then went on to pursue her Master’s of Science in Education and left Baylor, traveling north to the University of Minnesota, where she would stay for almost three years, focusing on four different sports.
A Houston homecoming
In the summer of 2010, the native Houstonian found her way back home and joined the Cougar nation as the sports performance coach for swimming, volleyball and women’s basketball.
“Over the last year, we’ve added positions, and we’re trying to get people down to three sports maximum, because the fewer sports you have, the more focused you’re able to be on those sports,” Spriggs said.
Now focusing solely on volleyball and women’s basketball, she is able to travel with the team and spend more individual time with the athletes.
“We work with her year round, too. Even during seasons, we’ll still lift and she’s still around, at every game and everything,” said senior basketball center Mae Woods. “She’s fun to be around, but she has a serious side. You have to get stuff done, and you have to make times. But her roles kind of switch, because in the offseason and the preseason, she’s really tough, and then during the season, she becomes more of a confidante or a friend.”
A trainer and mentor
Junior volleyball defensive specialist Natalie Keck said Spriggs is not just a confidante, but also a role model for players.
“One thing she said once, when we were in the weight room maxing out and someone was struggling, so she yells ‘sink or swim.’ And now, anytime someone is having a hard time during workout, I’ll say that just to let them know they can do it,” Keck said. “Another thing she always says is she wants to have a positive chi, and she brings that to every workout. She just always says things like that, which pushes past those that we don’t think we can push past. She’s kind of a role model to me in that way — her body, her presence, her confidence — is who we want to be as athletes.”