Seifert Builds SMU Volleyball Program, Inspires Female Athletes

Seifert coaches members of the SMU Volleyball team. Since starting the program 18 years ago Seifert has watched it grow to a regionally ranked program. Photo / Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty

Lisa Seifert came to SMU in 1996 on a mission. She was going to build the school’s first volleyball program, and she did just that. Coming from a position at Texas Tech, Seifert built SMU volleyball completely from scratch. “I just looked at it as an exciting experience, to be able to do something from the ground up,” Seifert says.

Seifert navigated building a court and purchasing equipment among other things. Without a record or tradition to aid in recruiting, Seifert’s inaugural team consisted largely of freshmen, club players and junior college transfers. “In recruiting especially, kids are very interested in the history and tradition,” says Seifert. “Of course, in the beginning I couldn’t say anything other than, ‘Hey, you’re going to play.’”

During her almost 18 years as Head Coach, Seifert has seen the program grow into a force in the volleyball community. Seifert has won nearly 300 matches at SMU, including a school-record 25 matches in 2010. “It’s been quite a ride,” says Seifert. “We went from, ‘Who’s SMU?’ to ‘Okay, now this is a regionally ranked program and program people recognize.’”

The team also participates in the Dig Pink initiative, a national Side-Out campaign to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research. The team began their participation after a team trainer was diagnosed with the disease.  “It’s something that I’ve tried to put a lot of heart into,” Seifert says. “For our girls, it helps them understand, as women, what they need to do and how they need to take care of themselves.”

Despite a disappointing season last year and the team’s displacement this year, due to arena renovations, Seifert feels the team is back on track.  “We’re extremely physical, we’re young, we’re talented,” Seifert says. “It’s a very competitive environment, so it’s really exciting.”

As an outstanding role model for female athletes, Seifert believes in emphasizing the importance of a solid work ethic, loyalty and discipline. “Regardless of how you feel about your teammates and the situation you’re in, you have to be loyal to the cause and loyal to the goal and disciplined enough to get there,” says Seifert.

— by Molly Price

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