Big 12 Campus Correspondent
"Harder. Better. Quicker. Faster. Stronger."
Those are five words that Chelsea Ringel repeats to herself every day. These are the same five words her dad taught her when she first started playing club volleyball in the seventh grade.
Texas A&M's junior outside hitter and defensive specialist is no stranger to the game. Her mother and her sister both played volleyball at Creighton, Kansas State and UCLA,
"Growing up around volleyball has definitely put me in the place I am now," Ringel said. "Before school, I would play volleyball in the street every morning, peppering with my parents. I also grew up watching my sister play and followed her all the way through her college career."
Ringel enrolled at A&M in January of 2008 and began working with the team in spring drills. She went on the team's two-week training trip in Europe.
"The fun part for me [about having Chelsea] is that we recruited her older sister eight years prior," Texas A&M coach Laurie Corbelli said. "At that time, Chelsea was running around the house as this prodigy little sister. We kept our eyes on Chelsea all these years.
"Chelsea was one of the most powerful players and her name was tossed around all over the country from Florida to Southern California. It is so fun to know that I have her here now."
Chelsea made her collegiate volleyball debut in the Aggies' season 2008 opener against LSU, making her presence known with 15 digs as libero. She then went on to play starting libero in 17 matches throughout the season, averaging 2.09 digs per set and 2.02 digs per set in Big 12 matches alone.
She posted a career-high 18 digs in a five-set victory over Missouri, with an impressive following of six consecutive matches in which she claimed double figures in digs. Ringel played in 27 of 30 matches and 82 sets during her freshman fall season, either as the team's designated libero or subbing in as a defensive specialist for a middle blocker.
As a sophomore, Ringel continued as a key reserve as a left-side hitter and defensive specialist. She appeared in 21 of 31 matches and 29 sets throughout the season. A special education major, she was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team. She also has a career-high seven kills and seven points in two sets against Texas Southern.
"Chelsea is a really good example of what hard work will get you," said team captain Kelsey Black. "Since our freshman year, she has always been extremely persistent and always did the best she could."
This season, Ringel has become a key player for the Aggies.
"She is just a complete player and a wonderful leader," Corbelli said. "She is a great role model for her teammates and for Aggie volleyball. She needs to be on the court all the way around. She can play front row consistently, her back row passing has improved tremendously and her defense is one of our best. She is very reliable and doesn't make many errors at all. All of these things together make for a player that any coach would love to have on their team."
This year, Ringel has greatly contributed to the team, with a total of 174 digs, averaging 2.45 digs per set. She has had 24 total blocks out of 71 sets, averaging 0.34 blocks per set. Out of 71 sets, Chelsea has also had 126 kills, which comes out to 1.77 kills per set. Overall, she has contributed 150 points from 71 games, averaging 2.12 points a set.
"I think I am a steady force," said Ringel, who is humble about her impact on the team. "Whether it's with passing, defense or blocking, I try to stay consistent and strong. And it's fun to finally be on the court, competing and sweating again. It was great to train for two years but I was definitely ready to step up into a role that I was comfortable in and recruited for.
"It feels good to be able to contribute to what I am used to contributing to a team instead of being a training player. I now am our team and am creating the plays and offense. It is really fun to go from being a training player to a key player, being a huge part of the team."
Black describes Ringel as "...the silent leader. In everything she does, she does it to the best of her ability. It just radiates through the rest of the team and brings out the same performance and energy in everyone else."
It appears that Ringel, a special education major has taken her father's five words of advice. She has become "Harder. Better. Quicker. Faster. Stronger."
Corbelli, though, adds a sixth word.
"Reliable. That is the one word I would use to describe her as a player and competitor," Corbelli said. "You can always count on Chelsea Ringel to her job done. She will always come through for you. Her game is really evolving and she will only continue to make tremendous impact this season along with the next."