Brandywine’s Stella a calming influence

Published 8:23 am Friday, September 25, 2015

Junior libero Mia Stella has transitioned smoothly from JV player to varsity starter for Brandywine. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

Junior libero Mia Stella has transitioned smoothly from JV player to varsity starter for Brandywine. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

Google defines libero as a volleyball player specialized in defensive skills.

Most casual fans know the libero as the one player on the court who has a different color uniform than the rest of her teammates.

The rules for volleyball state that each team can designate one specialized player to be the libero.

For the Brandywine varsity team, that one player is junior Mia Stella.

Stella, in her first year on the varsity team, is continually trying to get better and fill the void left by four-year varsity starter Abbey Cole.

“She’s gone from being a JV player to her first year on varsity and has done everything I’ve asked of her,” Brandywine coach Carrie Bidwell said. “She always wants to get better, and we are just trying to help her do whatever she can to become the best libero.”

One of the biggest responsibilities for the libero, as a defensive specialist, is the dig. Fortunately, for Stella, that’s right up her alley.
“I like diving,” Mia said when asked what was her favorite part of volleyball. “I like hitting the floor and the adrenaline and everything that comes with diving.”

As the libero, Mia is on the court as much as anyone, and more than most.
“She is on the court 97 percent of the time,” Bidwell said.

But it’s not just her presence on the floor; it’s also what her presence brings to the team that is important.

“She is so calm and collected,” Bidwell said. “She is a calm, soothing presence to a lot of the girls. She never gets mad at anybody, she only encourages and it’s very rare that you find a player that can only be positive and stay calm even in intense moments.”

That’s pretty high praise from a coach for a first year player, but it’s not just her coach that shares those sentiments.

“Mia is a wonderful teammate,” senior Emily Erwin said. “She’s always positive. Even if we are playing bad, she always has a positive attitude towards us and herself.”

“She’s just a really good teammate,” senior Sydney Carlson claimed. “She’s always upbeat, she keeps the team up, and she hustles. She is a great part of this team.”

“She never questions me when I tell her to do something,” Bidwell said. “If she makes a mistake she always looks at me and says ‘coach what can I do to improve?’ where other players might look away from me in that situation, she never does.”

Her hustle, and her desire to improve have shown through on the court as Stella leads the team in digs, with more than 120 (in just over 130 attempts), she is second on the team in aces with 12, and she leads in serve receive with a .873 receive percentage (193 out of 221 attempts).

Mia approaches volleyball the same way she approaches life.

“I think encouraging others and working hard will get you far in life,” Stella said.

When asked what was the highlight of her season so far she stated; “Just playing with the team we have, we all get along really well, and it’s really nice to come to practice every day with encouraging people.”

If you talk to Coach Bidwell and the senior leaders of the 2015 Bobcats volleyball team, it sounds as if encouraging each other, staying calm in stressful situations, working hard, staying positive, and striving to get better are all things that this team is striving for every practice and every match.

These are all specialized characteristics you’ll find in Mia Stella; characteristics that qualify her to be Brandywine’s new libero.