Many things go into making a good volleyball coach. The knowledge of the game. The ability to pass that knowledge on to players. The knack for properly conducting the roller coaster of emotions that could derail any season.
And, oh yeah, the ability to play a solid game of "PIG."
That ability paid off handsomely for Skyview volleyball coach Sheila Kupferschmid when it comes to seniors Amanda Fay and Lindsay Gephardt, who have five appearances at the state tournament between the two of them.
Neither Fay nor Gephardt had played volleyball until they got to high school. Both were solely basketball players when they went up to Skyview High School as eighth-graders to scrimmage the Skyview varsity.
Kupferschmid was an assistant coach with the basketball program, and it didn't take her long to start yearning for the athleticism of Fay and Gephardt on her volleyball team.
So the coach made a deal with Fay.
"I challenged her to a game of 'PIG,'" Kupferschmid said. "If I won, she had to come out for volleyball.
"If she won, I could never bug her about playing volleyball again."
Fay said she was confident of beating Kupferschmid at the game. "PIG" is a test of shooting marksmanship.
In it, the first player takes a shot from anywhere on the floor. If the player makes the shot, the second player must make the shot from the exact same spot on the floor or earn a letter. The first one to earn three letters, and spell "PIG," loses.
In the game against Kupferschmid, Fay quickly ran into a problem.
"I was a college basketball player," Kupferschmid said. "Amanda didn't know that."
The game played out before a number of witnesses, so when Fay lost she had no choice but to honor her commitment to volleyball.
As for Gephardt?
"I had basically told Amanda, 'I'll play if you play with me,'" Gephardt said.
Because the two had never played volleyball before, they had a couple years of growing pains ahead of them before they would grow comfortable with the sport.
Fay saw some varsity time her freshman year and went along for the ride when Skyview made its first trip to state in the sport.
However, even that didn't sell Fay on the sport.
"She really didn't like it," said Maureen Fay, Amanda's mother. "She did it as a freshman because she lost that bet, and she did it as a sophomore for me."
Gephardt did not make varsity her freshman year and also was considering dropping the sport.
"I was conflicted coming back my sophomore year," Gephardt said. "It was frustrating playing C-team ball, where it's a struggle just to get the ball back across the net."
During sophomore year, both Fay and Gephardt began their love affair with volleyball. Fay saw varsity time as a middle hitter and Gephardt was allowed to serve and play out the point on varsity.
The varsity team finished third in the Region III tournament and then finished runner-up in the state.
"It was so much fun that I wanted to play next year," Fay said. "I wanted to see how far we could get next year."
Gephardt also was hooked.
"The seniors on the team that year were awesome," said Linda Gephardt, Lindsay's mother. "It was a great inspiration for Lindsay to practice with the varsity and learn from them.
"It was a good experience to see the dedication and work ethic those seniors had. Lindsay's interest soared that year."
Junior year, Fay played as a right side hitter and Gephardt manned the back row as a defensive specialist as Skyview lost just one match during the regular season.
The Panthers then took the school's first region championship before a big crowd at Skyview. Skyview followed that up with a fourth-place finish at the Class 4A state volleyball tournament.
"I'll always remember how much fun it was winning regions at home in front of that huge crowd," Fay said.
This year, Fay and Gephardt have faced a different challenge. They are the only two seniors on a squad that is 2-11 overall.
Kupferschmid said the intensity of the two seniors has never flagged due to the lack of victories.
"What makes both of those two successful is that they're competitors and they don't like to lose," Kupferschmid said. "What's been encouraging is that we've been in every match. We're losing close matches.
"Those kids have the feeling that they are competing, and they love that feeling."
Fay and Gephardt, the team captains, also have gotten to feel what it's like to stay on the floor nonstop and lead the team.
"My personality is to lead," Gephardt said. "I already knew all of the girls, so it was very natural to slip into a leadership role."
After volleyball season, the two will move to the basketball floor where their athleticism also serves them well.
Gephardt was named junior varsity defensive player of the year as a freshman, and then varsity defensive player of the year as a sophomore and junior.
Fay is Skyview's Wendy's High School Heisman nominee.
"They like to win and they're willing to work hard to get that success," Skyview coach Wade Marcuson said. "Coaches like having them on their team because they're so easy to work with."
The two also are easy to work with in the classroom. Gephardt is the student body president and carries a 3.9 grade point average. She also is a member of the National Honors Society and is planning to attend college next year.
Fay carries a 3.4 grade point average and plans to go to school next season to become a nurse.
"The two have just known each other so long," Linda Gephardt said. "Amanda always knows where Lindsay is on the floor, and Lindsay always knows where Amanda is on the floor."
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