Senior defensive specialist Katie Kampen has learned that success has many meanings, and winning points sometimes starts with motivation off the court.
Kampen, who won the Mikey’s for Leadership award in August, says that motivating is always a team effort.
“Sure, it [the award] has my name on it, but it’s reflective of the whole team,” Kampen said. “It indicates what great things are going on around our whole program.”
The award is an honor for Kampen, but it illustrates the program’s success more than personal accomplishments.
“Receiving the award is truly an honor, but I can take no credit for it,” Kampen said. “The award mostly tells of the culture of our program that started before I ever stepped foot here.”
With the culture within the LSU program revolving around defense, the proven four-year leader understands the necessity of being tenacious game in and game out.
“We call ourselves the dig squad, and we take a lot of pride in that,” Kampen said with a smile. “Our goal is to literally fight on the ground and keep balls in play, but it also goes beyond that. We try to aim our digs to the best of our ability to give our offense an edge.”
It is a difficult job when the opposing team is constantly spiking the ball from every angle, but Kampen and the rest of the defense are up for the challenge no matter the opponent.
“We have all heard it before — defense wins championships — and that is our goal in this building,” Kampen said. “We are never satisfied on the defensive side, and that is what keeps our tenacity at its highest level.”
Tenacity seems to be the name of the game for this year's team, but there is also another motto that Kampen likes to keep in the minds of the players.
“Fran always tells us to empower one another,” Kampen said. “Sometimes certain people have to step up in leadership roles, but motivation is mostly a team objective. It all comes down to wanting to see the person next to you succeed.”
Kampen also describes how simple conversations on the bench can lead to points in the game just by showing that the teammates always have each other's backs.
Even with the season getting off to a slow start for the Tigers (2-4), the morals are still ingrained in the team that continue to look ahead for inspiration.
“We always preach that we just need to take one step forward every time,” Kampen said. “We all have goals that we want to reach in December, but we need to play in the moment.”
When asked how the team was going to achieve those goals, Kampen provided a simple answer.
“We just got to fight for it on every single point,” said Kampen. “Continue to play one game at a time and keep playing with the tenacity that all our coaches preach.”
The Tigers are going to try to ride the motto of tenacity as the season continues. There is no question of leadership, but the will of the Tigers will be looked at in the coming weeks to see if they can start stringing together quality wins against quality opponents.