These are not the names that will be yelled amongst the crowd as the game gets exciting; these are not the players you generally see blow up stats sheets and media reports.words_david furones. design_claudia aguirre. photos_alex broadwell & spiridoul kotrokois
If everything goes according to plan, these are the individuals that show up on the field only in a few specific situations. The job of the reserve player is just as important as the job of the starting quarterback, catcher, or point-guard. These are the players that will not necessarily be starting games, but their appearance later on in the match may prove to make all the difference.
A clear definition does not exist for what a reserve player does for their team. Usually, these players face more stress than the starters do. Since they are not able to play all the time, they have to make their limited minutes in game situations count. They must be alert throughout the entire game, observant of minute details and be ready to go at any moment if the coach decides to put them in. It takes maturity and perseverance to be this player, to sit in the reserve for the good of the team.
The 2010 Volleyball team advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002, where they made it all the way to “Sweet 16″ round. However, due to injuries and lack of rotation, the were unable to advance as far as they could have, losing the first round to rival Florida International University.
Fast-forward to the 2011 season, and the ‘Canes are off to a hot start. They are 10-1 heading into ACC play despite adding seven incoming freshmen to the team. So far, those freshmen have stepped up when given the opportunity.
“I think that having a lot of new players has changed the dynamic of practice just because our team is bigger,” said Lizzie Hale, sophomore outside hitter. “Everyone is contributing, which is really helpful.”
With such a talented roster, it is common to see rotation between the players in different game situations. It makes it even more important for the non-starters to be able to make an impact during their limited time.
BUMP, SET, SPIKE: Lizzie Hale and Taylor Hollins both play for the UM volleyball team. Hale was used primarily as a server her freshman year but is now a defensive specialist and outside hitter for the team. Hollins is also an outside hitter.
“I think coming off the bench, it’s important to have a lot of energy,”Hale said. “We always talk about having a spark, coming in and making a difference. It’s easy sometimes on the bench to just fall into the lull of the game but when you go in you actually have to bring in your best effort and all of our players have been doing a really good job of that.”
On this team, everyone is important, whether a starter or a bench player. The energy radiates between the players and through their team motto “sixteen strong.” If they are going to advance to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row, everyone will have to contribute to the cause.
“I think everyone understands, it doesn’t matter about how old or how young you are, you have to compete for your spot,” said Taylor Hollins, freshman outside hitter, “I just think the starting [or] not starting thing doesn’t matter because we all need each other regardless.”
Everyone is expected to contribute. And with players such as Hale and Hollins playing behind veteran leaders such as Lane Carico, Katie Gallagher and Lic McGee, there is enough reason to be optomistic for these ‘Canes.
The much-improved depth of several positions within the University of Miami football team could propel them to elite status. The running back position on today’s Hurricane football squad begins with senior Damien Berry.
Berry has not always held this coveted starting role; in fact, the 6-foot, 215 pound bulldozer was never even expected to play offense at The U.
Playing on both sides of the ball while at Glades Central High School in Belle Glade, Fla., he was recruited by the ‘Canes, as a four-star recruit in 2007, to play safety.
He didn’t make the transition to running back until a couple of years back when the coaches began to see potential in him at the position.
Berry didn’t get a chance on the field until the fifth game of the 2009 season in a blowout victory against Florida A&M. He played mostly in the second half, coming off the bench, and carried the ball 14 times for a total of 162 yards and an average of 11.6 yards per carry. He capped off Miami’s score of the night with an explosive touchdown run from 35 yards out and immediately became a fan favorite. He ended the season leading the team with 8 rushing touchdowns and 6.6 yards per carry rushing average and was second on the team to Graig Cooper with 616 rushing yards.
MAKING THE TRANSITION: Senior Damien Berry did not begin his career as a running back for the Miami Hurricanes. He was originally recruited in 2007 to play safety, but made the transition to his current position once his coaches recognized his potential.
Heading into his senior season, Berry is now the focal point of the team’s rushing attack and has already accumulated 139 yards on 22 carries in the first two games of the year. In addition to leading the team in rushing, Berry comes into the season with a determination to become a leader both by example and vocally.
In a post-game interview following the loss to Ohio State on Sept 11, Berry was asked about an interception Jacory Harris threw on a pass targeted for him. Although there was nothing Berry could have done to prevent the turnover from occurring, as it was a thrown ball by Harris in the red zone, he was persistent that he take the blame for it.
“It was my fault,” he said repeatedly.
Berry’s willingness to accept blame is indicative that he feels, as a senior, it is his time to take control of the team and his actions.
Following Berry on the ‘Canes depth chart at running back is red-shirt freshman Lamar Miller, a Made-in-Dade product out of Killian High School. Miller has already burst onto the scene with his first two peaks at game action. In the home opener against Florida A&M, he earned ACC Rookie of the Week for producing 65 yards off of 11 carries and a touchdown.
The following week, he had an electrifying kick return in Columbus, Ohio that put the ‘Canes on the board in the Horseshoe, and momentarily stunned the Buckeye faithful. Miller, number six, has been dubbed by many the fastest man on the team and has Miami fans excited about his playmaking abilities. Fans proclaim it to be “Miller time” whenever he touches the ball.
Other top-notch recruits reside on the offensive line’s depth chart. The mountain of a man, Seantrel Henderson, who is listed officially as a right tackle, has not been deemed ready by coaches to see a great deal of playing time.
He will look to get into the offensive tackle rotation mid-season and is a prime candidate to take over an offensive tackle position. The 6-foot-8-inch, 330-pounder hailing from St. Paul, MN is ranked on the Rivals 100 as the number two overall high school senior a year ago. He has the potential to be the biggest baddest offensive lineman to ever hit Coral Gables since Bryant McKinnie, a senior on the 2001 national championship team and now plays for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.
On defense, Miami was plagued in recent memory due to the lack of depth. This season, the ‘Canes feature eight to 10 players they can rely on to make an impact. Injuries throughout the year and fatigued finishes to the season should not reoccur, as players will be rotating out of the games and staying fresh throughout the year.
“When you’re able to rotate guys, that’s when you’ll play really well,” said head coach Randy Shannon. “If you only have five guys that are real good, then only five guys are going to play and you’ve got to get in great shape at defensive line. Fortunately, we have numbers and guys feel real good about playing.”
The UM men’s basketball team underachieved last year. However, it was also a team that had to deal with several injuries and a young core. The ‘Canes finished the season with a 4-12 reord in conference play and did not win a single road ACC game.
But there is reason for optimism this season.
Despite several disappointment, this basketball team finished on a high note. They won two games in the ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C. and played hard against eventual national champion, Duke, in the Hurricanes’ elimination game.
Reggie Johnson, Julian Gamble and Malcolm Grant are the most animated players on the UM sidelines:when they are not in the game and their team makes a big run heading into a timeout, they are the first to greet their teammates on their way back to the bench.
Grant, a 6-foot-1-inch transfer guard from Villanova, is usually one of the smaller guys on the court. But as the team’s sparkplug, and does not go unnoticed. When he gets in the game , he is the loudest player on the court and has an unremittingly energetic presence for the ‘Canes coming off the bench.
Take a minute to memorize those names displayed on the jerseys standing on the field or sitting on the bench in front of us. These players may be UM’s best kept secrets representing the future of our teams. They won’t stay benchwarmers for long.