Oct. 6, 2009
Louisiana Tech senior outside hitter Lindsay Armstrong's volleyball career has been sort of a roller coaster ride, but Armstrong's positive attitude and heart has kept her in the game and now the Tuscon, Ariz. native is enjoying every minute of it.
When college coaches begin recruiting high school student athletes most start looking at the student athlete when they are juniors in high school to see if they have what it takes to handle the college level of athletics and earn a scholarship.
In Armstrong's junior year of high school she tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of her knee causing her to miss her entire junior season of volleyball for her school as well as falling off the recruiting map.
"When I tore my ACL I lost a lot of recruiting," Armstrong said. "Your junior year is a big recruiting year and I lost all of it. By the time I was healthy enough to play most of the coaches that were recruiting me before had already filled their teams or had lost interest."
Fortunately Armstrong had a good friend in current Tech senior middle blocker KC Clayton who played on the same club team as Armstrong. After Clayton signed with the Lady Techsters, her mom decided to do some recruiting for Armstrong.
"KC's mom told the Tech coach about me," Armstrong said. "She told her if the team was looking for an outside hitter they should come take a look at me, so they did and the coach liked what she saw and offered me a full scholarship to play volleyball for Tech."
Before Armstrong signed with Tech, however, she wanted to make an official visit to make sure she was making the right decision. Armstrong came on her official visit as a senior in high school and instantly fell in love with Louisiana Tech and Ruston.
"I knew I wanted a change of scenery because I grew up in the desert of Ariz.," Armstrong said. "When I first arrived in Ruston for my visit the first thing I noticed was how pretty everything was on campus, everything was so green. Another thing that really stood out to me was how nice everyone was. I fell in love with southern hospitality. I just knew Tech was the right place for me because I couldn't stop smiling the entire time I was on my visit."
"It was really hard on me coming all the way from Ariz. to Ruston not knowing anyone but KC (Clayton)," Armstrong said. "Me and KC just kind of stuck together and kept to ourselves."
Having to start over and make all new friends was not the only obstacle Armstrong faced her freshman year at Tech. Toward the end of her first collegiate volleyball season Armstrong suffered another knee injury tearing the same ACL she tore in high school.
"I think everybody goes through hard times their freshman year in college," Armstrong said. "I especially had a hard time, dealing with having to make new friends and then being injured like I was while being thousands of miles away from my friends and family; it was a rough time for me."
Armstrong spent the entire off-season recovering and by the time the new season rolled around she was nearly ready to play physically, but mentally she was not quite ready.
"My sophomore year I spent mostly trying to recover," Armstrong said. "When the season started my knee was close to being healthy, but mentally it takes a while to come back and have confidence to make cuts and jump. I don't think I was ready and our coach at the time expected me to be at 100 percent. I worked in and out of the rotations throughout the year, but I just wasn't ready. I actually began to dread volleyball. I wasn't having any fun anymore."
The hiring of current head volleyball coach Matt Sonnichsen in March of 2008 changed all of this for Armstrong and brought back her passion for the game.
"When Coach Sonnichsen came I began to love volleyball again," Armstrong said. "I looked forward to going to practice and just the way he runs everything made it fun for me again, the team's attitude is just so much more positive. He's turning our team around and this is the best I've seen our team play since I've been here."
According to Sonnichsen, Armstrong should receive all the credit for her new revitalized passion for the game and praises her for her positive attitude.
"Lindsay (Armstrong) works hard every day in practice, is very supportive of her teammates and brings a positive energy to the team, Sonnichsen said. "Like our other seniors, she had a couple of rough early years as a LA Tech volleyball player and to make matters worse, she had suffered a knee injury. Lindsay has been an amazing senior for our program and I am proud of her for staying strong, for believing and being supportive of the new direction for LA Tech Volleyball and providing the senior leadership that every team needs to have a great season."
As a senior now Armstrong says that it's not just the level of play that has changed for the Techsters, it's the attitude and character of the team as well.
"When I was a freshman the seniors made us carry bags and wanted to show they were the boss and there was no positive reinforcement," Armstrong said. "As a senior I've made a point to try and stay clear of that and be as positive as possible and make sure our team is like a family. If we're getting down and frustrated as a team, I'm going to be the one to bring us back up."
Armstrong's senior season is half-way over now and the Techsters are off to their best start to a season since 2005. The team has now finished up their out of conference schedule which consisted of four tournaments in which Tech never finished lower than third including a first place finish in the Techster's home tournament on Aug. 28-29.
"My best memory in my career at Tech is now winning our home tournament at the beginning of this year," Armstrong said. "I haven't felt that way since high school. It literally brought tears to my eyes because I was so excited and so proud of our team. I could see it in coach Sonnichsen's eyes too that he was proud of us and was excited about what the season might hold for our team. What a way to start the season."
As the team gets ready to start its conference schedule and Armstrong's collegiate volleyball career nears its end her team and individual goals remain the same.
"I just want to keep setting the bar higher and higher for Tech teams that come after us," Armstrong said. "Most of all I want to continue to keep heart in the game."