Otterbein Coaches and Professors Teach Student-Athletes Life Lessons

Posted Mar 25, 2021

Student-athletes at Otterbein spent their fall semester training for an uncertain sport season. Their coaches kept them on track with conditioning and training, and this semester, every student-athlete is getting a season of play.  

As they dominate on the field, many student-athletes credit their coaches and professors with teaching them life lessons off the field. From an inspiring coach re-igniting a love for the game to classroom presentations instilling confidence, every athlete has a story to tell.  


Sami Ange 
Gates Mills, OH 
Health Communication and Public Relations 
My first experience with Otterbein was on my overnight recruit visit with Coach Steines, Coach Laskey, and the 2017-2018 Otterbein Softball team. The program felt like a family and I knew right away that I wanted to be a part of it. I found an academic and athletic program I love and I am happy to say I found my home away from home at Otterbein. 

When I came to Otterbein as a freshman, Coach Donovan stepped in as the new head coach and has helped me grow since day one. She pushes me to be better every day because she believes in me and wants me to succeed. Having a coach be able to pull you aside and say they believe in you is the most a player could ask for and I am lucky enough to have a coach who does that. Coach Tackett, Coach Rose, and Coach Abby never fail to put a smile on my face and are my biggest hype team. I am so blessed to play under this staff, they are not only amazing coaches, they are great people and have a huge place in my heart and my life. 


Lyndsay Blum 
Independence, OH 
PreK-5 Primary Education
Women’s Golf 

I chose to compete and study at Otterbein because I love everything about the school! The location is so perfect with Uptown Westerville being in walking distance and places like Easton, Polaris, and downtown Columbus just a short drive away. Additionally, the campus is beautiful and the community just feels so welcoming. Meeting Coach Booher and some of the team members when I visited really helped solidify that this is where I see myself playing golf and studying to become a teacher.  

Coach Booher really has been such an inspiration to me! Coach Booher is 150% committed to the team and always gives us the best opportunities on and off the course. Even during the pandemic, he’s found ways to keep the team bonded and focused on improving our games together. You can really tell that he cares about us and wants us to be the best we can be. As a future teacher myself, I want to make sure I inspire my students to be the best they can be like Coach Booher has done for me.  


Julia Vermilion  
Pickerington, OH  
Business Analytics major, Finance minor

In high school, I really had no idea what I was looking for in a college, or whether I wanted to continue playing volleyball or not, so it was important to me to find a school that I loved regardless of my sport. When I visited Otterbein, I absolutely loved it—the campus, size, and location were the perfect fit for me. The history of success and the team culture of the volleyball program was something I knew I wanted to be a part of.   

Our current assistant and strength coach, Megan Mills, truly pushes us to be our best in the weight room and on the court, but never lets us lose our love for the game. She’s constantly reminding us to just have fun and enjoy playing while we still can. She brings so much passion and energy to our team, and her enthusiasm is contagious.  

Practicing and working out all fall without knowing whether we would even get a spring season was discouraging at times, but I learned a lot about discipline and perseverance through all of it. Being able to practice and compete every day alongside my best friends is something I will never take for granted. 


Paul Hensley 
New Albany, OH 

The soccer coach, Jason Griffiths, has really inspired me during my time here at Otterbein. His passion and knowledge of the game is incredible. He has helped me develop in ways both on and off the field.  

A great experience I had here at Otterbein was in a class where we presented in front of people who held high management positions in their respective companies. This allowed me to give a presentation in front of people with experience, but in a comfortable setting. The level of people brought in to listen to the presentation speaks for the connections professors have here at Otterbein. 


Leah McNutt  
Wadsworth, Ohio  
Athletic Training  
Women’s Lacrosse   

I knew my education was going to be in great hands when arriving on Otterbein’s campus. Professors here at Otterbein are willing to put in hours of time to ensure each student feels confident with the subject. In my athletic training courses, the small class sizes lead to hands-on learning opportunities directly with our professors and preceptors. Another big thing I was looking for in a school was the surrounding area. The close access to Columbus, shopping centers, and Westerville provides many options for activities to do when you want to leave campus. The surrounding area also provides great job and career opportunities for the future of each student. Otterbein was able to be my complete package.   

My head coach, Alexis Venechanos, has inspired me greatly. Coming into college I had lost my love for the sport that I had grown up loving. I came praying that something would change for me and I would find my spark again. Coach Venechanos and I were both new to the program. After just the first few weeks of fall practice, she had relit the spark inside of me for the sport that I once thought I would never be able to love again. Her knowledge of the sport and how to teach it was what stuck out to me the most. I have the world of respect for her, because of the way she can bring out the best in each player. She has also inspired me off the field. She pushes each one of my teammates and me to be the best overall human that we can be. She does not only teach us how to be great lacrosse players, but she teaches us how to be strong women.  

When our season was shut down suddenly due to COVID-19 in March 2020, I was ready to show the OAC what we had worked so hard on. The sudden end to the season a week before our first league left me feeling crushed. I was hurt and upset. After being sad for a couple of days, I took the opportunity to start to work harder than anyone else. I was outside everyone morning before online classes to run, bike, work on skills, anything to push myself to get better. This experience taught me how to be mentally strong, how to not let defeat bring me down. It inspired me to use defeat as motivation and how to persevere through the hard times to make the good days’ worth so much more. 


Derrick O’Conner  
Delaware, Ohio  
International Business 

Coming out of high school I didn’t really know where I wanted to go to school or if I wanted to play football or not. I got invited on a football visit to Otterbein and fell in love. I loved everything about the campus and felt like going to school here would be the right fit. Being close to home and close to Columbus was a big part of it too. I was very close to a lot of opportunities and still got the chance to continue playing the game I love very much and that was big for me.  

One lesson that has helped me grow on and off the field was the passing of my teammates, Nigel and Dillon. It showed me that I cannot take a day for granted. On the field I know any play could be my last, so I learned that I have to give my all anytime I get to step on the field. I’m sure the two of them would love to be competing, so I also think about it as if I’m playing in honor of them. I had to learn to take on adversity and continue to push forward. Being able to continue playing while mourning the loss of a friend was a big step in me growing as a man. I think through the loss of my two teammates I’ve learned mostly to cherish friendships and teammates and that has helped me to be a better person every day.