Volleyball athletes flying high on- and off-court

photo of volleyball students studying in the libraryDemi Stauffenberg grew up in the gym, playing volleyball and basketball ever since she could walk.

Today, the sophomore is one of the leading athletes on the Laramie County Community College volleyball team, finishing her freshmen season with the Golden Eagles with nine double-doubles in 30 matches and being named Region IX Freshmen of the Year and making the All-Region IX North first team.

While her love and dedication to athletics is clear, however, Stauffenberg said it’s not the primary reason she’s at LCCC.

“We all come here to get a college education before we come to play volleyball,” she said. “Volleyball isn’t something that’s going to last forever, so we’re going to have to figure out some sort of occupation that we enjoy and want to do for the rest of our lives.”

In addition to outstanding performances on the volleyball court, Stauffenberg and her teammates haven’t disappointed when it comes to their academic performance, either. The team finished the 2022-2023 academic year with a 3.57 grade point average and a remarkable 3.81 for the spring semester.

The college’s athletes had a strong showing on the National Junior College Athletics Associations list of All-Academic Teams with 29 student athletes earning a 3.60 or better throughout the 2022-2023 academic year. Volleyball added three names to the first team with Brooke Parker, Emalee Bugas and Stauffenberg. Sadie Christiansen made the second team and McKenzie Earl received a nod for the third team.

LCCC’s volleyball team was also one of 22 NJCAA Division I schools named to the United States Marine Corps and the American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award, a first for a Golden Eagles volleyball squad. The award honors volleyball teams that maintain a year-long grade-point average of 3.3 or better on a 4.0 scale.

Last season, Stauffenberg maintained a 4.0 grade point average while playing well enough to earn the Region IX North Freshman of the Year accolade. In finding the appropriate balance between school and volleyball, she said the team found ways to do it together.

“I was nervous — I’ve never taken college-level courses,” Stauffenberg said. “But I think a found a way to balance athletics and academics pretty equally. In the second semester, we had arranged study hall times. At first, I think all of us were dreading it, but within a week or two it was really helpful. I think we hold each other accountable, and we have a support system here with free tutors, the library and things like that. As a team I feel helping each other is something we do.”

Volleyball coach Zach Shaver took the reins in June 2022 wanting to bring a culture that prioritized athletics and academics.

“I’ve found that our academic success and our on-court success go hand-in-hand,” he said. “We’re not going to win a national championship or Region IX championship with a 2.5 GPA. That would mean we’re not working very hard.”

Shaver said he’s proud to coach a group of athletes that support one another, and he knows Staufenberg, for one, will work tirelessly to achieve her goals while at LCCC.

“She’s not going to settle for mediocrity,” he said. “That competitiveness is there, and then there’s the leadership quality that’s led to her being a captain this year. I think she just puts in the time and effort to be a leader and get a 4.0.”

Go to golccc.com to follow Golden Eagles athletics.