Kevin Nydam, Broadside Correspondent

It may prove to be a difficult task to find someone on campus who is not thrilled about the start of this year’s George Mason University women’s volleyball season. With a 9-3 record to begin with and taking three out of four matches in the N.C. State Classic last weekend, the team is heading in a positive direction.

As this college season is the last for seniors Sam Simmonds, Laura Turner and Rebecca Walter, they are determined to give their all for the opportunity to leave with something to hold on to for the rest of their lives.

“There’s a special feeling about this season—everybody’s always positive,” said Simmonds, the 5-foot-11-inch lefty right-side hitter from South Australia.

She is a psychology major and plans to either return to Australia for graduate school, travel or work towards a child development program in Africa. Simmonds began this season with 155 sets played, 220 kills and 198 digs in the books.

She first started playing volleyball after someone recommended she play because she was tall and left-handed. Sam experimented with it and has been playing ever since.

After playing a few years in Australia, she met Paul Koncir, the assistant coach for Mason at the time. Koncir is now the head coach at Towson University.

He told her if she ever wanted to play for Mason, the opportunity was just a phone call away. After some thought, Simmonds accepted the offer and became a student at Mason.

Simmonds enjoys surfing and also plays netball in the offseason when she is not playing volleyball.

If given the option, Simmonds would choose to play beach volleyball because of her love for the beach and the great atmosphere it provides.

“I’m so proud of the chemistry the team has this year, and I’m looking forward to the conference season,” said Laura Turner.  Turner, given the nickname “L.T.” by her teammates, is the 6-foot-3-inch middle hitter/blocker hailing from St. Louis, Mo.

Over the past three years, L.T. has recorded 280 sets played, 537 kills and 112 digs. As a communication major, she may return to her home in St. Louis after graduating and search for a job in the field. Turner may end her competitive volleyball career at Mason, feeling that she has reached the climax of her career at this point.

LT briefly played volleyball prior to high school, but she acquired her love for the game during her high school years. While playing in various leagues and tournaments, Turner met Koncir and was impressed with his coaching ability. He invited her to be a part of the Mason team and she agreed to play.

Turner prefers indoor volleyball for competition, but would rather play beach volleyball for fun.

Rebecca Walter is a senior outside hitter from Monbulk, Victoria in Australia who led the team last year with 311 kills. She also had 262 sets played, 927 kills and 571 digs over the past three years on the team.

She is very excited for the 2009 season and is impressed by the way the team built its chemistry, especially during the spring.

Before she was in college, one of her previous coaches took up a position in the U.S., where he mentioned her name to fellow coaches he came into contact with.

Some of the coaches looked Walter up and asked her if she would be interested in playing for them at the collegiate level. Mason was one of the schools that expressed interest.

After about a six-month period, she decided to attend Mason. After graduation, Walter plans on either continuing on her psychology studies in graduate school at Mason, taking up a coaching position for the team or looking for a contract to play volleyball in Europe.

Walter first started playing in high school and was greatly influenced by her coaches.

She prefers to play indoor volleyball because “beach volleyball is a different game altogether.”

Simmonds and Walter were excited for the opportunity three years ago when they decided to embark on their journey to the U.S. As roommates in their freshman year, they were glad to be able to take on the challenge of going to a school in a different country together.

The seniors found that having to travel all over the country, sometimes for five days in one trip, has its advantages and disadvantages. On one side, it is great to see other schools, play in different facilities and see different parts of the country.

On the other side, the team misses out on certain things that come with campus life and have less free time.

Travelling can also be physically and emotionally exhausting, but as Simmonds said, “Once you step on the court, you forget all that.”

The team has taken advantage of starting out fresh, especially since they are currently on top of the conference standings. The team plays next on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. against the rival VCU Rams.


Sam Simmonds

Laura Turner

Rebecca Walter



Mexican and Italian


Place to eat on Campus




Vacation Spot

Rio, Brazil

Grand Haven, Mich.

France or Brazil


The Lion King

Too many to pick

The Notebook

TV Show

How I Met Your Mother

Full House/Cold Case

Grey’s Anatomy


The Sistine Chapel

The Wednesday Letters

Harry Potter


Jack Johnson, Kings of Leon

Anything but Metal

R&B, Pop