By John Burbridge firstname.lastname@example.org
GREENE — The color of money is green.
The color of gold is … well … gold.
And if you so happened to be a North Butler Bearcat volleyball player who didn’t get the memo and came to Thursday morning’s practice not aglow in the latter color, you would have stood out like a bad penny.
“Those are some of the little things our new coach has brought to the program this year,” Bearcat senior Nicole Heeren said. “We come to practice wearing all gold or all white.
“You don’t want to be the one who comes here not wearing the right color.”
New coach Laura Schwickerath admits she’s not breaking new fashion ground by imposing a same color and shade dress code for her practices. She’s actually mimicking the policy of her former softball coach at Waldorf University.
“You come to your matches in the same uniform, so you should probably practice in the same way,” Schwickerath said. “I’ve seen it work. It helps create team unity.”
A former head softball coach, Schwickerath has recently come to Greene to teach special education. She is taking over a program that has steadily improved over the past few years.
After winning a total of 15 matches over two seasons in 2014 and 2015, the Bearcats went 17-17 last season and managed to advance as far as the Class 1A regional finals.
Among the returners are All-Top of Iowa-East Conference second-teamer Heeren, who led the Bearcats in blocks (56); and All-TOIE honorable mention selection Darby Christensen, who was the team leader in kills (162) — two better than Heeren.
“I’ve seen this team improve every year I’ve been here,” Christensen said. “So I believe this last team for me could be the best team I played on.
“Our coach has added a lot of new things that should help us get better.”
So far, Schwickerath likes what she sees.
“This is a scrappy bunch,” she said. “I love the energy these girls are showing … the way they work and communicate with each other. We’re all playing as one.”