Glaser talks a good game

by Sarah Mitchell

Some day Gophers middle blocker Erica Glaser’s name might be included among those of famous motivators, like Tony Robbins or good-health guru Susan Powter.
As a collector of motivational books and quotes — “Aim for the moon; Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars,” for example — the Omaha, Neb., native has countless phrases she can rattle off to instill confidence into her teammates.
Glaser doesn’t spout any profundities on the court, calling that “corny,” but she does use them during pre-game motivational speeches.
“That’s when I get to spring them,” the sophomore said. “Everyone borrows my books. They’re like, ‘Erica, it’s my turn to give the team speech. Can I borrow a book?'”
Before she considers a career in motivational speaking, Glaser is focusing on volleyball, still amazed she’s a part of a Big Ten program.
“Up until high school I was just this total prissy little girl who hated gym class,” Glaser said. “Volleyball was the only sport I liked.”
When people discovered her fondness of the game, they told her she lacked any athletic talent and referred to her as “the tall skinny girl.” Glaser relied on motivational books to strengthen her confidence. The books were a success.
Like most volleyball recruits, the Gophers scouted Glaser early in her high school career. But during the several occasions that assistant coach Maurice Batie saw her play, Glaser failed to convince him she could compete at the Big Ten level.
Most of the problem was due to the weak support system around her. Glaser’s high school team was not competitive, making it hard for her to stand out as an individual.
But a videotape sent by Glaser in June of 1996 showcasing her ability forced Batie to take notice of the 6-foot-1 athlete.
“Out of ten swings, on probably two to three swings we saw something there that could really be special,” Batie said. “She got her long arms and legs and everything else going in the right direction and we thought, ‘Wow.'”
Glaser’s game is heading in the right direction this season, as Hebert calls her “a work in progress.” But Glaser has yet to reach her potential — a tag that’s become her signature.
Inconsistency, as a blocker and hitter, have plagued Glaser throughout her short Gophers career. Hebert said only time will tell whether Glaser will reach the level of play she is capable of achieving.
“It’s a frustration for me, but I know it will come into its own,” Glaser said. “Patience is a word I have learned.”
Batie has been supportive through Glaser’s undependable moments during the season. As a coach, he is looking for more consistent game-swinging plays — like those Glaser made in a five-game battle at Iowa earlier this season.
“Erica comes off the bench and cracks the game winner high over the other team,” Batie said.
While Glaser was pleased to contribute to the Iowa game, she does not label that moment as a career highlight. Instead, Glaser said she cherishes the Sept. 12 match against Missouri, in which she set a Minnesota single-match record with a .917 hitting percentage performance. By pounding 11 kills in 12 attempts without committing an error, Glaser bettered the previous record of .818 set by Jean Schintz, who went 9-of-11 against New Mexico State in 1994.
Early in her career, Glaser is anticipating more school records, calling herself “a big dreamer.”
“I always believe anything is possible,” Glaser said.
Before finishing her thought, Glaser realized she was merely repeating a quote from her book collection.
“That’s another one,” Glaser said. “Anything is possible as long as you put determination into it.”