‘Themed Thursday’ practices boost volleyball team’s morale

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Canisius volleyball head coach Lenika Vazquez holds ‘Themed Thursday’ practices, which has helped boost the team’s morale. Here, the team is pictured on their mismatch themed practice. (Photo courtesy of Sofía López Acosta)

By Matthew Duke

Communications Director

Coaches are always looking for ways to motivate their players, especially at practices. They like to keep their players engaged in order to increase morale and productivity among the team. Coach Lenika Vazquez of the Canisius women’s volleyball team thinks she has found a way to do this.

Since her tenure at Canisius started, Vazquez has held themed practices on Thursdays during the season. A theme is picked for each week and the team will match the theme when they show up to practice. It gets the team excited about practices on Thursdays and keeps the teams energy up, which is crucial, especially as it gets into the latter stages of the week and into game time on the weekends.

The team gets really into it and they make it a focal point of the week.

“Every Thursday, we have a theme. It could be like a hippie theme, Halloween, or crazy hair day,” said senior libero Sofía López Acosta. “We just had the one that was a Disney theme. So you had wear something or dress as something from Disney. It’s actually really fun, and it’s just something to look forward to every week. It’s what motivates me honestly.”

Keeping things light is an important part of these practices, but the team takes them seriously, both as actual practices and in matching the theme.

“It’s kind of hard to remember the theme sometimes. We’re just worried about practice and it’s really only written on the calendar. It definitely motivates us, though,” continued López Acosta. “Like everybody has a lot of fun. I take really personal and I dress up…a lot. But it makes everybody laugh and it’s a lot of fun.”

The team clearly loves the practices, and credit can be given to them for making the volleyball team a much more enjoyable team to be a part of. Nowadays, with professional athletes saying the game they love has lost its fun, it’s important to make things fun. It keeps interest in the game, and these practices are a good way to add an extra dose of fun throughout the season, while making sure the team stays on track and focuses on their goals.

The team seems to have more energy and higher morale headed into the weekends, and that has rung true since Vazquez took over the team in 2016.

“I’ve been doing themed Thursdays since I got here,” she said. “So if you’ve seen improvement within the last two and a half years then I guess it’s working. But it definitely helps morale. It’s fun. We take a lot of pictures, and we have photo shoots. I just have to get better at posting them. I’m terrible with social media.”

Vazquez agrees that the practices are a vital point of the week for the team. She wouldn’t have implemented them if she disagreed.

“It’s fun. You know, we’re still in here we’re still working hard, but it gives us a different look. It gives us something to plan, to just be silly,” Vazquez said with a smile. “I mean they’re college kids and this is a college team. Actually, I’d probably do it at any level, but it just makes it fun.”

The team looks to come out of this week’s practice and improve upon their 4-2 conference record when they take on Fairfield this Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Koessler Athletic Center. They will then face Quinnipiac on Sunday at 1 p.m., also at home.

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