By PAUL DELANEY
Lisa Westlake had her regular role as assistant coach abruptly changed last week with the sudden resignation of head coach Miles Kydd.
Unable to comment on any of the details surrounding, or leading up to the change, Westlake is just taking this new path as a part of what life tosses one's way and is moving forward.
“I think it's safe to say I've been around for four years as an associate coach last year and I think the transition for me has gone pretty smoothly,” Westlake said. She and her Eastern Eagles went 0-3 in losses, 3-0 to UC Riverside last Friday, to South Dakota State 3-1 Saturday morning before dropping a 3-0 match to host Gonzaga University later at the Martin Center.
The Eagles were on the road Wednesday at Boise State in another pre season contest in advance of playing Friday and Saturday at the Iowa State Challenge in Ames, Iowa. They open Big Sky Conference play Sept. 13 at Sacramento State before playing at home for the first time against Portland State Monday, Sept. 17.
Westlake said she feels at home in the gym. “I feel fortunate that coach Kydd and I shared a lot of duties, unlike a lot of other assistant coaches.”
“Administratively there's a lot of things coming at me that you only get when you're a head coach,” Westlake said. “The administrative staff and all the other coaches have been so supportive.”
Now if she can cure the injury issues Westlake will be much more happy.
When starting setter Lindsey Niemeier went down with a potentially season-ending ACL injury in the Eagles' opener against Seattle at the Wyoming Classic two weeks ago, Eastern lost the volleyball equivalent of its quarterback.
“The setter is much like the quarterback in football,” Westlake explained. “You kind of run all the plays.” Setters don't always get a lot of credit, she said, but they have one of the most important jobs on the court.
“Lindsey (Niemeier) and Laney (Brown) had been with the program for three, almost four years and they're still learning,” Westlake said. “It's a big thing to be in that position.” Brown is trying to recover from a broken toe while Niemeier suffered a torn ACL in EWU's opening match against Seattle U and is expected to be out 6-12 weeks.
Between the injuries, Kydd's sudden departure and the reported incident of sexual assault that involved a member of the team, a lot of upheaval has hit the group. The team has pulled together in the past couple of weeks and gotten closer.
“Those are some of the good things that have come out of what happened,” Westlake said. “They're definitely fighters.”
While the Eagles have, so far, been winless following three losses this past weekend at the Gonzaga tournament, “We're competing and a lot of good things are coming out of losing them (Niemeier and Brown).”
Brown could be back in a couple of weeks, Westlake said.
“Just persevering, that's what life's all about; life has a funny way of teaching you lessons,” Westlake said.
Westlake takes solace in, and appreciates the fact that at least the team was home, or near home, during this past week. Better than having things unravel in Flagstaff or Grand Forks, perhaps.
“It's one step at a time, one foot in front of the other,” Westlake said.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.