At this stage of the volleyball season, every player is in game shape and ready to take on the rigors of two tough, intense district games each week.
But Cassidy Stewart is just one of the Lady Indians that knows the mental side of the game is equally important.
It’s all part of Keller’s first-year – but seasoned – head coach Jamie Siegel’s foundations.
Part of teaching mental toughness and preparedness was having the team read the book The Mental Game of Volleyball by Brian Cain.
“The mentality from Coach Siegel is to focus on one day at a time,” Stewart said. “Today, we got up and the focus was on today’s practice. Then the focus was on Ryan, then the next day’s practice,” said the senior middle blocker. “We just work to get better every day. It’s what works for our team.”
Stewart said much of the premise of the book is to take the larger goal and break it down into bite-sized pieces.
“Sure, there is a physical toughness needed for volleyball, but much of it is the mental ability,” Stewart said. “In the book, Cain talks about climbing Mount Everest. You may see 200 feet at a time, but you have to focus on one foot at a time.”
Mental toughness aside, Stewart in the middle has become a formidable force for the Keller squad.
Not only is she a 6-foot blocker, but she can swing, too, creating an offensive threat at the net, as well.
“Swinging in the middle is so important for an offense,” Stewart said. “To go up and be a defensive threat and get a swing is good weapon to have. And it’s great that we have three weapons.”
Stewart is referring to the other middles, Anna Simpson and Alex Griffix, both freshmen. “They’ve stepped up and done such a great job,” Stewart said.
“I think I’ve grown as a player, and I’ve trained very hard and this year I’ve stepped it up,” she said.
Growing as a player was in her skill-set, although Stewart was quick to note the roster lists her as just 5-10.
“Everyone has stepped it up,” she noted of her teammates. “We’re a force to be reckoned with and we’ll do great things.”
The energy Stewart exerts is what helps fuel the Lady Indians. And when the energy is up, Stewart said Keller will be hard to beat.
“It all starts with my support group,” she said, referencing her family and best friend Payton Gidney, who happens to play at Grapevine.
“I can’t do what I do without them.”