Fair makes adjustments to lead Gophers’ blockers

There’s a frequently heard phrase that bounces around the Sports Pavilion over the public address system during a volleyball game.
“Charnette Fair is everywhere.”
It’s usually after a big block or a strong kill. But whatever it refers to, it pumps up the play of Minnesota’s middle blocker.
“It’s cute, I like it,” Fair said. “When I hear it, it gives me more hype.”
Fair has used that hype to help guide the No. 23 Gophers to a 7-1 start in the Big Ten — one of the team’s best ever.
It took the junior college transfer a couple of matches to adjust to the play of the Big Ten, but so far she has excelled quicker than she expected.
“The adjustment has been really hard,” Fair said. “When I came here I had to change a lot of my techniques because I was a little sloppy. It felt like it was going to be a longer road than it has been.”
Coach Mike Hebert said he is impressed with the way Fair made the transformation to a Division-I level and has become a player other teams need to look out for.
“She has been remarkable in her ability to adjust,” Hebert said. “She has remained very calm in the face of an awful lot of pressure. She’s burst onto the Big Ten scene — people are talking about her.”
In fact, Hebert has been impressed to the point that he regrets not starting her earlier in the season.
“I waited too long to put her in the starting lineup,” Hebert said. “I thought she would come along a little slower then she did, but she did it right away.”
Fair has become the anchor of this year’s improved Minnesota blocking game. She is second in the Big Ten, averaging 1.48 blocks per game.
She credits her teammates, especially sophomore setter Lindsey Berg, with being patient during her adjustment to the Big Ten conference.
“They’ve been really understanding,” Fair said. “I haven’t been here to work with (Berg) as much us the other middle blockers have.”
But while her teammates can help her adjust on the floor, they have nothing to do with her ability to sky above the net. She contributes her leaping ability to faith in God.
“I have all the faith in God,” she said. “He helps me to stay strong. He lessens my injuries, and He keeps me going.”
Her nondenominational faith in God doesn’t stop on the volleyball court, however. She has used faith to balance volleyball with academics at the University.
“It’s stressful, but it’s something I can push through,” she said. “It’s hard, but not too hard that I can’t stay on top of things.”
And coming here from southern California, Fair has had to adjust to new surroundings as well. So far she is having no problems enjoying Minneapolis’ laid-back atmosphere.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s slower-paced than L.A., and that’s good.”

John R. Carter covers volleyball and welcomes comments at [email protected]