For someone who can fly, Laura Beach is very-well grounded.
A senior middle blocker from Lakewood, Colorado, the talented Beach will graduate this May with a degree in Kinesiology. She has a good idea where her path is going, and she’s comfortable with it.
She has produced a record-breaking career at Wyoming, and still has plenty of memories to make. She and the Cowgirls open Mountain West play tomorrow night (September 22) at 6:30 p.m., hosting San Jose State at the UniWyo Sports Complex.
“I will get my degree in May, but I would like to keep playing this sport”, she says. “While my education has been a huge focus, I’d like to play professionally either oversees, or beach volleyball here in this country.” An All-Mountain West First Team performer the last two seasons, she is currently UW’s all-time leader in hitting percentage at .364. To give you an idea of the magnitude of that statistic, the great Erin Kirby had been the leader, finishing her career with a .354, which is currently second on the all-time list.
As a youngster, basketball was actually Beach’s first love. It was during her mid-teens when she could see that volleyball might be the ticket to her college education. “I played on a 15-16 (age group) club team (Front Range), and my coaches made me realized it probably wasn’t possible to play both volleyball and basketball in college. I decided I would have a better chance of earning a college scholarship playing volleyball.”
Beach really came into her own on the volleyball court during those Front Range days. “I was pretty shy then, and I really didn’t know anyone on my team,” she says. “But during testing, I found out I could jump higher than anyone else on the team. That gave me confidence and a sense of place. Volleyball was my sport from then on.” Ironically, one of her teammates on that Front Range team was senior Cowgirl Kayla Slofkiss.
Along with fellow seniors Slofkiss and Courtney Chacon, Beach has been a huge reason for Wyoming’s growing success in volleyball.. With an outstanding conference season the three could become the winningest senior class in Cowgirl volleyball history. “The three of us came in at the same time,” Beach says. “Since we were all from Colorado, we developed a very special bond, and chemistry. We take a lot of pride in the fact we’ve stayed together, and put so much of ourselves into this program.”
Of the three, who is the best leader? “I think all three of us bring different components of leadership, and we balance each other,” she says. “I’m probably more vocal, Courtney is more clear-minded and calming and Kayla leads by example. I think it works well.”
As Beach sees it the Mountain West will be a tougher conference than it was last year. “I think our tough pre-season schedule has prepared us for conference play. I thought we handled those early, tough losses pretty well and maintained our confidence. But during these last two weekends I think we have found our identity. We’ve worked through the kinks, and we are more ready for conference play because of the difficulty of the pre-season.”
While Beach was not recruited by the current coaching staff, she has the utmost respect for Chad Callihan and his staff. “I think this staff really works well together,” she says. “They enjoy spending time together and that’s fun for us to see. They have an amazing amount of volleyball knowledge, while young enough to relate to us and transfer that knowledge.”
There’s no question Beach is incredibly motivated, and calls herself a perfectionist. “Every single day I want to get better, I want to be the best. It’s stressful, but that’s the pressure I place on myself. I love the competition, and hope my dedication helps me continue beyond college.”
She’s emotional when talking about this being her last season as a Cowgirl. “It’s hard to put into words what it’s been like playing in the UniWyo,” she says. “The support we have received just fills your heart. That probably sounds cheesy, but it’s true. The crowds and support have grown every year since I’ve been here. Sometimes we’ll look at each other standing at the net, not believing the noise in that building. It’s really something, and I will never forget it.
“My time here has gone by so quickly,” Beach says. “I can’t believe this is my final year. I won’t forget the friendships, I won’t forget my teammates and I won’t forget our experiences together. I want us to finish this season successfully, doing the very best we can. I don’t want it to end.”