WATERTOWN, Wis. -- In just 9 days, the Maranatha Men's Volleyball Team will transition to the varsity scene for the first time.
Any inaugural season brings challenges, but head coach Torey (DeLozier) Rosen is up to the task - she brings a dynamic blend of competence, commitment, and character to the helm of the program. These things make her the perfect fit to lead the team into their first season of varsity competition.
To say that Rosen was a standout volleyball player is quite the understatement. She is the most decorated athlete in Maranatha history: a 2-time NCCAA DII National Player of the Year, an NCAA Top 30 Woman of the Year nominee (DI-DIII), a 4-year NCCAA All-American, and a 5-time NCAA statistical champion are just a few of the accolades she has to her name.
Aside from her national recognition, Rosen set soaring program records for career kills (2,358) and career points (2,898.5) during her career at Maranatha, which spanned from 2009-2012.
After her career in the Blue and Gold, Rosen stepped into an assistant coach role at Cedarville University (NCAA DII) while pursuing a masters degree in education from 2013-16. During Rosen's 3-season stint as an assistant coach, the Yellow Jackets won 3 regular-season titles and 2 tournament titles in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference while holding a 62-32 overall record. After coaching at Cedarville, Rosen returned to Maranatha to be the assistant coach of both the Women's Volleyball and Men's Volleyball (Club) teams.
“Playing at the DIII level and coaching at the DII and DIII levels have allowed me to develop my philosophy of coaching,” said Rosen. “I think the experiences at both universities have allowed me to gain a greater perspective of collegiate athletics.”
But her experiences as a player and coach didn't come without the necessary sacrifice and commitment.
As a player and as a coach, Rosen's commitment to the task at hand is unquestionable.
While she holds numerous playing accolades, most people don't realize that the stellar playing career was at one point in serious jeopardy.
Rosen sustained a brutal shoulder injury just four months before beginning her collegiate volleyball career. Rosen had to work tirelessly just to return to the court - let alone to 100 percent.
"The doctors said that she could only be - at best - 90 percent healthy for the rest of her life," said Regina DeLozier, Rosen's mother and coach. "People don't realize how hard she had to work just to be back on the court for her first collegiate season. But she was determined to be her absolute best. She said to me, 'Mom, I don't want to waste a year of playing if I can't get back to full strength.' But she did the work - she puts work into things that no one learns about."
Rosen certainly did the work that summer. She not only played but logged 475 kills, 155 assists, and a subsequent NCCAA All-America selection as a rookie. Over her next three seasons, Rosen built on that momentum to become one of just two student-athletes from Maranatha to earn NCCAA All-America (1st Team) honors for all four seasons.
Rosen shows commitment to other people as well. She knows how to empower the players on her team. She believes in them.
An example of this was from her junior year when she rallied a losing Maranatha team to win the NCCAA Regional Championship - even after they went down 8-1 in the fifth set.
"At 8-1, the match is over," reflects Pam Fiocchi, who played side-by-side with Rosen for four seasons and was Rosen's setter that day. "But Torey looked at us in that huddle and said, 'Guys, I know we can do this. We can win this game!'"
Rosen's tangible sense of belief spread to her teammates. Maranatha won by two points.
"When Torey said that, the team listened," Fiocchi said with assurance. "We knew that she wasn't just saying it. Torey believed in every one of her teammates."
This belief, according to Fiocchi, extends to the players that Rosen coaches.
"No matter your skill level, if you want to improve, Torey believes that you can. She will work with you, and she believes in you."
Besides these skills, Rosen possesses a stable work ethic as well as a biblical perspective on the sport.
"Torey is a take-charge person," stated DeLozier, who will assist Rosen this year. "You give her a project, and she is all in. She has totally taken charge of her development."
Last year, Rosen took charge of scheduling matches for this season. The task came with challenges, as the team earned varsity status just nine months before the start of the season. Finding opponents with open play dates was difficult but Rosen did the work. This meant countless phone calls, emails, and paperwork. All behind the scenes. All to set a schedule for the team's first intercollegiate season.
Maranatha now has a 32-match schedule ahead of them.
For Rosen, having a good first season is a certain goal, but how the team conducts themselves, both during the match and off of the court, is paramount.
"Our theme for this year is 'first impressions,'" Rosen said. "We want to display a good Christian testimony. We also want to leave a good impression on opponents for future matchups. We hope our attitudes will leave [opponents] wondering, 'I wonder what they have that we don't have.'"
In keeping with her own example of leadership, Rosen recognizes the importance of a spiritual emphasis for the program. Wins and losses, while important, are less significant to Rosen than they may be to the average coach.
"Without the right mindset of a program, the rest of the aspects of a season are meaningless," Rosen continued. "Using athletic participation as a platform to share Christ and help each other grow spiritually allows a program to have a greater mission."
To Rosen, volleyball is clearly so much more than a game.
Because of who she is and what she has done, Rosen brings so much to the table as head coach of the new program.
“Torey embodies all the elements that will make her a great coach at MBU," said Rob Thompson, MBU Athletic Director. "On-court experience, understanding MBU philosophy and culture, national tournament experience, the ups and downs of injury and rehabilitation, personal and professional character, and a tireless work ethic. We are excited to see where Torey is able to take this program in its inaugural season. I know Torey is the right person for the program!”
In just a couple of short weeks, the team will begin play. And with Rosen at the helm, you can be sure that the program is already headed in the right direction.