Updated Thu, Oct 11, 2012 8:21 pm
Updated Thu, Oct 11, 2012 8:21 pm
For some people being a leader is a struggle, for others, it’s as normal as breathing. In Ohio Volleyball senior setter Leah Petrovich’s case, it’s the latter.
“I’ve always just been told it’s a natural characteristic of me,” Petrovich said about her role as a leader.
As one of only two seniors on this year’s squad, Faith Robins being the other, Petrovich has played a pivotal part in the ‘Cats success on and off the court. Over the past four seasons Petrovich has been a valued member of a team that has dominated the MAC East.
Petrovich, a former Wendy’s High School Heisman winner, knows how to win. She has been on an Ohio team that has racked up two NCAA Tournament appearances during her tenure as a Bobcat. She helped lead Ohio to a 25-12 record last season as a key role player coming off the bench.
Despite having freshman Abby Gilleland start as the main setter this season, Petrovich has still managed to have a huge impact on the court. In last Friday’s win over Akron, she came off the bench to help the team to the tune of 16 assists. The following day against Buffalo, Petrovich continued to dominate, racking up another big game with 25 assists and seven digs.
“I feel a sense of urgency right now, especially with being a senior,” Petrovich said on her recent hot streak. “We’re almost halfway through the MAC…knowing that there’s maybe five to six weeks left of competition, I want to be out there on the court and help my team.”
The court isn’t the only place this vocal leader has an impact on her squad. She’s there to help her teammates at all times, especially the freshman.
“They understand their roles better because of her,” Ohio Volleyball head coach Ryan Theis said on her role with the freshman. “They don’t have a lot of questions or if they do they go to her with them and she’s kind of a guide in helping them through their freshman year.”
It’s her ability to help that has allowed this team to bounce back from a rough start to the season that included tough losses to Kentucky and Oregon. Petrovich acts as a mentor and a support system for her teammates, it's something she thinks is a key part of being a good leader.
“I guess what I thrive off of is helping my team get better and making other people (around me) better too,” Petrovich said.
Petrovich makes sure to always be there for her team, regardless of the time of the year.
“Even in the offseason leading up to this year, even through the preseason this year, she’s just a big leader in what we do,” said Theis.
Of course with only a few more weeks left in her senior season, Petrovich’s role as a team leader is almost over. So too will be her volleyball career that started when she was in fifth grade back home in Pittsburgh.
“I don’t know how I’m going to respond without volleyball in my life,” she said when talking about her future. “I don’t know if I’m going to be like ‘what do I do?’ or if I’m going to be like ‘ok cool volleyball’s over.’ It’s hard to tell right now (but) I’m excited to focus (next semester) on school work and broadcasting and find an internship and see where that takes me.”
Petrovich is a Broadcast News major in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. One of the requirements of the highly competitive program is completing an internship at a news organization, something she hasn’t been able to do yet because of her responsibilities as a volleyball player. She plans on applying for internships with television stations, likely in the Pittsburgh area, and will be eligible to graduate after the summer.
“I would like to (be a television reporter),” she said about her aspirations after school and volleyball are over. “I’m kind of going more towards sports. I’d love to say I played sports and be a sports reporter.”
One thing is certain though, while she knows the end of her career at Ohio is close, she’s not forgetting about the task at hand: winning the MAC East, the MAC Tournament and potentially making the NCAA Tournament for the third time in her four seasons on the team.
After a disappointing finish to their season last year that ended in them missing out on an entry into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in her career, Petrovich is not about to let the future get ahead of her or her team’s tasks at hand.
“I mean last year was a little slump for us, but we’re hungry and we’re looking to take the (MAC) tournament title,” Petrovich stated.
Petrovich will look to help lead the team to a MAC Tournament title by continuing their recent hot streak, which has included five straight wins, all in straight sets. Of course once the season is over and her four years at Ohio are all done she will always be fond of her time in Athens.
“The people that I’ve met,” Petrovich replied without missing a beat when asked about her favorite part of being a Bobcat over the past four seasons. “I feel like I’ve been blessed with the people that I’ve met here and in the time that I’m here it feels like fate and that I was supposed to be here and meet these people and have them in my life,” she said glowingly.
In the end that’s the truest test of a good leader, not their ability to have an impact on others, but the lasting impacts those others have made on them.
“They’ve made a difference,” she said.