SHERIDAN — A pair of team mottos ran neck and neck down the home stretch. In one instance, ‘with each other, for each other’ took the slight lead and then shorty after ‘gritt’ gained the upper hand. As the two approached the finish line — or the final vote in this case — gritt claimed the victory in the ever closest of margins. 

And so the word that will best describe the Sheridan College volleyball team in 2018 will stand misspelled, but, more appropriately, accurately embody the Lady Generals. 

“We decided gritt suited us more,” Mikaila Jensen said. “We know that it’s not always going to be highs all the time, and we know we’ll have our lows and we’ll lose games, but we have to have the gritt to get through it and come back and better ourselves, and go get them the next time.”

The quest to discover a team motto for the 2018 season started in the classroom. During a team meeting, players were asked to throw out acronyms, words and phrases that best described themselves and the team as a unit. 

Head coach Jennifer Stadler initially had about a dozen suggestions she wrote on the board and after a thorough vetting process, gritt — greatness rises in this team — stood as the last one standing.  The Lady Generals level of play rose as the 2017 season progressed. After struggling from the outset, SC hit its stride toward the end of the season en route to a runner-up finish at the Region IX Tournament.  While Sheridan would like to see a stronger and more successful start to the 2018 season, it’s hoping to see similar improvement as the year wears on. 

“That’s something we’ve already talked about with the sophomores and the new freshman, is picking up where we left off,” Stadler said. “I think the sophomores that are back from last year, they got a taste of what we could really do for this program. So their expectations coming into this season were already high and you can just tell with the way the sophomore class has been playing so far.

They’re playing with a lot more confidence, and their expectations are higher not just with the freshman that are here but with themselves. They’re challenging themselves to play at a higher level, and they’re asking the freshman to get their with them, quickly.”

In years past, Stadler has found herself motivating her squad quite a bit and urging them to improve each and everyday. She’s not doing that this season. 

“It’s really good to know that I have kids coming back that want [greatness] just as much as I do,” Stadler said. “I think every coach has years where they want it more than the team does. Our kids this year almost want it more than I do. It’s awesome that you can share that passion and competitive nature with these kids.”

Region IX went through a postseason reform ahead of the 2018 season. The region will combine both the North an South Divisions prior to tournament time, and in order to gain entrance into the tournament, teams will have to win a play-in game. 

That places more emphasis on the regular season, and with a team motto already in place, the Lady Generals hope that is the start to a memorable fall.