June 9, 2014
Erica Handley joins the Gophers after a year with Syracuse. She saw action during the spring volleyball season, her first semester with the Gophers. In her freshman year with the Orange, Handley played in all 32 matches and 122 sets. As the primary setter, Handley had 1,073 assists, 73 kills and a team-best 29 aces. Named the ACC Freshman of the Week twice, Handley ranked 10th in the league with 8.80 assists per set. Prior to her tenure with Syracuse, Handley played volleyball with Lakeville North High School and Northern Lights club team. Check out this short question and answer session with the 6-foot, 1-inch setter.
Q: What led to your decision to come to Minnesota?
A: When I was deciding to transfer, I didn’t have the best idea of where I wanted to go. I knew that I wanted to play at a higher level and Minnesota was always one of my top choices. I wasn’t homesick at Syracuse, but I was intrigued by the idea of playing closer to home.
Q: You have a year of Division I volleyball experience, how has that helped your transition to Minnesota?
A: It has helped a great deal. I graduated high school early and went to Syracuse in the spring after graduation. That had allowed me the opportunity to experience a spring season and it was helpful to have that under my belt. It showed me what the Division I level would look like.
Q: What have you been able to learn so far from this coaching staff, especially head coach Hugh McCutcheon?
Q: You and Katie Schau are running the setter position, how have you two been able to operate and communicate this spring season?A:
A: I love the different philosophies the coaches have. I love everything they are teaching me and their coaching styles fit with my learning style. Hugh is always available to talk and I appreciate that we can talk with him whenever we need to. He calms us down and is open for any conversation.
I think Katie and I work really well together because we make each other better. If I didn’t have her around I wouldn’t have that motivation to push myself to get better and vice-versa. Having that competition makes both of us better.
Q: You were able to go to the USA Volleyball training in Colorado. How did that experience help you develop as a player?
A: It helped a great deal in my development. When I was with Syracuse I had gone to that tryout by myself last spring. This year it was different going with people I knew. I could talk with my teammates and learn from them as well. I came back with a lot of new and different skills.
Q: You usually have two hometowns listed on your bio. What is the story behind it?
A: I lived up north and went to a small school called Win-E-Mac. The school was a combination of about four different towns because those individual towns were so small. I had 20 people in my graduating class. When I was a junior in high school, I decided that I wanted to pursue volleyball at a higher level. My family knew that we would likely have to move to a different town in order to play at a more competitive level. I joined a club team that would come down to the Twin Cities to play in tournaments and travel all over the country. We still weren’t getting the exposure we wanted as a team, so I made a decision my junior year to move down to the Lakeville for one year while I played with Northern Lights. I lived in Lakeville for one year and had great memories down there, but I spent my whole life in Win-E-Mac and I consider that town to be my home. Both towns are very close to my heart, so I didn’t want to abandon one town as my hometown.
Q: You were born in Montana and moved to Minnesota. How old were you when you moved?
A: I was about 12 years old when we moved from Montana to Minnesota. I still have some good memories from Montana. Volleyball was one reason we made the move because there would be more opportunities to play here in Minnesota. My mom’s whole family lives in northern Minnesota as well.
Q: Your mom played volleyball and your dad played basketball. Have you always had the desire to play at this competitive level?
A: My mom coached college volleyball for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been around volleyball and immediately fell in love with the sport. My parents never forced me to play anything I didn’t want to, but their experience has allowed me to enjoy the game even more. It was my decision to move to the Twin Cities; I lived here with a family friend for six months before my parents were able to come down to Lakeville. I played volleyball that entire time and it was all my idea. They provided a wonderful amount of support.