SIUE’s Colclasure Puts Defense First

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SIUE’s Chelsea Colclasure began her freshman season as a starting libero for the Cougar volleyball team. Through her organizational skills and on-court talent, Colclasure has become a valued member of the Cougars hoping to use that talent for four full seasons.

Chelsea Colclasure

Chelsea Colclasure

“She (Colclasure) is very straight forward, and she appreciates the same in return. It made our relationship easy because we’re both pretty blunt and enjoy a good laugh, too,” SIUE Head Coach Leah Johnson said.

Chelsea Colclasure is fine with being just a little different than the rest.

It comes with the territory of being a libero for the SIUE volleyball team. A freshman, Colclasure has stepped into the role focused and organized as if she’s already been there for several years.

It’s easy to spot the libero at a volleyball match. Just look for the player in the opposite uniform. If the rest of the team is wearing red, the libero is wearing white. If the team is wearing white, the libero is in red.

Colclasure relishes her spot in the lineup. This is the person who is supposed to make the job of a setter easy. Colclasure is the clear leader in digs on the squad with 4.49 per set. All of those opportunities to turn digs into kills for the team keep her busy.

SIUE Head Coach Leah Johnson noted that Colclasure is a very driven individual. She was even surprised during the preseason when the young freshman asked for more work.

“She came in and asked me if we could set up an extra running program for her,” Johnson said, “after two to three practices a day during preseason.”

Colclasure figured she needed more running to give her an extra edge. “I need to be faster. I have to work on running down tips and I can’t do that if I’m slow,” she said.

Colclasure and Johnson bonded well in the recruiting process, and Colclasure now sees that Johnson is the right fit for her as a player. “Coach knows a lot about defense. She helps me a lot with serve receive. She makes me want to get better,” said Colclasure.

Johnson said she contacted her club team, Munciana, because of the club’s reputation as a defensive and serve receive-minded club.

“She (Colclasure) is very straight forward, and she appreciates the same in return. It made our relationship easy because we’re both pretty blunt and enjoy a good laugh, too,” Johnson said.

Their relationship grew quickly as a pair who spoke bluntly about the future -- notably -- what it would be like as an SIUE Cougar volleyball player. Colclasure wasn’t worried about the work and dedication required.

“I knew what I was getting into. My club team is pretty tough,” she said.

Johnson said Colclasure’s summer job was a pretty good indication of how gritty and dedicated she would be as a student-athlete.

Colclasure worked for the street department in Decatur (Ind.). Her job involved painting, scraping, and cleaning curbs. Sometimes it was painting lines at parking lots. And for anyone who remembers how hot it was in the summer, that wasn’t a cushy job.

“I wasn’t even going to get a job. I was planning on doing nothing this summer. Then my mom said ‘Maybe you should just apply for a job,’ ” said Colclasure.

Thanks to Mom aside, Colclasure’s days were structured and often tiring. She woke up at 6 a.m. and went to work by 7 a.m. After a nine-hour day with one hour for lunch, she returned home, got a quick bite to eat, and then shared a 90-minute car ride twice a week to Muncie for practice. She returned home sometimes as late as 11 p.m.

“It was fun. I’ll probably do it again,” she said.

Her club practiced twice a week and on weekends. Matches were all around the country – in Kentucky, Michigan, and Florida to start.

“That actually helped me evaluate Chelsea. I knew she was hard-nosed. I knew she wasn’t going to complain,” Johnson said. “She understood the demand. She had already structured her summer in a high demand type of schedule. So when she got here she already knew how to manage her time.”

“She was in the gym every day, staying after every day, getting individuals, and commuting almost an hour and a half, all for a 30-minute session.”

Colclasure learned at an early age the grind of athletics. She played softball, basketball, and volleyball. Her three older brothers were athletes as well. “I ran around with them since - forever. When they went to baseball games, I would be out there for practices,” she said. Her brother, Seth, played basketball at Valparaiso.

After being coached by both of her parents, among others, she settled on volleyball as it was a sport no one in her family knew too much about.

“It’s always been between softball and volleyball. Volleyball is just my own thing. You yell and cheer out there,” she said.

“My senior year I just decided it was too much, and I just put it down to volleyball,” she said.

Her family enjoys attending her matches and keeps that coaching mentality in the back of Chelsea’s mind.

“Dad still has his pinpoints at me. ‘Don’t miss your serve.’ It’s the only thing he knows to say,” she added.

Johnson has encouraged Colclasure to be more vocal.

“Sometimes when I get into a game, I forget who to talk to because I’m focusing on what I need to do. I need to get a pass before anything else can happen,” Colclasure said.

Her focus is there on the court, but it begins off the court.

“She trains with a clear head because she has prepared and planned ahead. That’s a very veteran student-athlete trademark.” Johnson said.

The Cougars certainly hope to utilize that veteran for four years.

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Eric J. Hess, SIUE S.I.D. Phone 618-650-3608    E-mail: ehess(at)siue(dot)edu

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