Searra Becker loves volleyball.
Lamar (Col.) Community College loves volleyball and Becker.
The junior college with the nickname Running Lopes, located in Lamar (population 7,800), has made the 18-year-old Becker its first-ever Canadian recruit.
“I am extremely honoured to be the first Canadian to play for Lamar,” said Becker, a five-foot-10, left or right side power hitter who leaves for the junior college at the end of the month. “I’m very excited for this opportunity.”
LCC Runnin’ Lopes’ head coach Brandon Stephenson is fairly new to the school and doesn’t seem bothered by what his players’ passport reads.
“For me it’s not a big deal that she is the first Canadian. I have worked with Canadians at previous schools and they bring a different mentality to the team. They grew up differently, played on different teams and attended different camps than our U.S. girls,” said Stephenson.
Becker overcame a serious ankle injury in her final year of high school to lead the Vernon Panthers to seventh place in the provincial championships, just one week after getting an air cast off her injured ankle, which she wore for five weeks.
She got noticed by Stephenson through a U.S.-based recruiting website where Becker could post her profile, stats and video of her in action.
“We saw her film on a recruitment site and we were very impressed with the diversity in her game,” said Stephenson.
After a bunch of e-mails and phone calls back and forth, Becker was sold on little Lamar, located two hours southeast of Denver in the Arkansas River valley, and serves as Colorado’s industrial and retail center for the southeastern region.
“Lamar’s a nice small town which is what I wanted when it came to going to college,” said Becker, though she admits the ankle injury left her wondering about not where she would play college ball but if.
“When I got injured, I didn’t know what I was going to do, I didn’t know if I would still be able to play in my first college season. To be honest, it felt like my world was crashing down,” said Becker.
After some intense physiotherapy with Dason Starling at Damini Physiotherapy and Sports Injury, Becker was able to return to the Panthers, though she admits her vertical is not what it was before the injury.
Her love of volleyball came at a young age. She would shag volleyballs in Grades 4 and 5 for the Grade 6 and 7 teams at Silver Star Elementary. Becker started playing club volleyball in Grade 5 and played two age groups up.
“That’s when I started to get really serious about volleyball and I’ve been serious about it ever since,” said Becker, employed this summer at Red Robin.
Asked to list her strengths, Becker said she has good court sense and is coachable.
Her coach in high school was her dad, Keith who, along with mom Rhonda, has supported Becker in her volleyball aspirations.
“My family has been very supportive,” she said. “They always try to make every game that they can. Practice-wise, my dad has always pushed me to do the best I can and when I was slacking off, he’d push me harder which was awesome.
“He knew what my breaking point was. He would never push me to that breaking point but he’d push me to keep going.”
Becker plans to spend her two seasons at Lamar playing volleyball and studying sports and fitness management.
The Lopes finished 20-13 last year in the Region IX of the National Junior College Athletic Association.
Players report to camp in a week with two-a-day workouts starting Aug. 11. They host their first tournament Aug. 22 and games are webcasted online.
Lamar athletics are named after the second fastest land animal in the world—the antelope. Antelopes can hit speeds of 70 mph. They’re able to accomplish this feat thanks to their oversized lungs and heart. The Runnin’ Lopes of LCC have the heart, ability, and competitive spirit to compete with the best.