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Syracuse volleyball’s Jalissa Trotter follows in mother’s footsteps on collegiate stage

first_img Published on October 4, 2016 at 1:22 am Contact Nick: nialvare@syr.edu | @nick_a_alvarez While in college, Melissa Trotter-Hardy needed help raising her daughter. In between attending volleyball practice and night classes, Trotter-Hardy’s coach at Henderson State University, Rhonda Thigpen, would look after her daughter. Thigpen would take the newborn girl to volleyball practices and church, and even became her godmother.“She became the little sister of the program,” Thigpen said. “Her mother worked around campus, and you would see Jalissa (Trotter) in the gym with a ball.”In these early days, Trotter developed a love for volleyball that would stick with her throughout her life. Nineteen years later, Trotter still finds herself on collegiate volleyball courts, playing as the starting setter for Syracuse.Both Trotter’s current head coach, Leonid Yelin, and Thigpen believe her competitive edge comes from her mother. Thigpen remembers picking Trotter up from school and seeing her goddaughter challenge other kids in races.Trotter brings that mindset every time she steps on the court for the Orange (3-11, 2-2 Atlantic Coast). She’s become a versatile force for SU, filling in the team’s need for a setter, even though it’s not her natural position. She leads the team with 266 assists and averages 6.19 assists per set.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“That’s all I ever was around … her playing volleyball, her coach and her teammates,” Trotter said. “I’d just sit on the side and play around with the ball. I kind of became addicted to it then.”As a child, Trotter attended several volleyball camps offered by her godmother. At the camps, she learned a mindset that she believes allows her to succeed on and off the court: M.T.X.E., Mental Toughness Xtra Effort.This philosophy that Thigpen teaches all of her players centers on working hard and becoming a role model for others.In high school, Trotter-Hardy would drive her daughter over two and a half hours every day from their home in Texarkana, Texas to Dallas for volleyball practice.Last year, Trotter’s freshman year at Syracuse, she wrote Thigpen a letter. In it, she thanked Thigpen and Trotter-Hardy for everything they had done to help get her to Syracuse. If not for them, Trotter said she would not have made it to SU.Now that she’s at Syracuse, Trotter has demonstrated her growth as a player. In the third set against Boston College on Sept. 23, Trotter rose up and struck a ball with a force that elicited an audible gasp from the Orange crowd.In that match for Syracuse, Trotter made an impact as she led the team with 19 assists.Trotter-Hardy and Thigpen are what got Trotter into volleyball. They ushered her every step of the way through the sport. Every time Trotter steps on the court for SU, she strives to make an impact akin to the mark that Trotter-Hardy and Thigpen left on her. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more