North Texas Daily

Sister helps drive volleyball senior to success

Sister helps drive volleyball senior to success

Sister helps drive volleyball senior to success
September 26
13:23 2013

Ehsan Azad / Staff Writer

Watching the Mean Green volleyball team play a match, it might seem like senior outside hitter Courtney Windham was born to play the sport as she blocks a ball over the net or soars for a game-winning kill. But she was just following in the footsteps of her sister when her passion first began.

As a child, Windham watched her older sister Cassandra play volleyball in high school. Five years older than Courtney, she looked up to her like any little sister would.

But after suffering two anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries to her knees in the span of two years, Cassandra’s time on the court came to an abrupt end. Courtney watched her older sister lose out in playing the game she loved, but it inspired her to join in the game herself.

“I copied her in everything she did,” Courtney said. “She played, so I played volleyball.”

Windham, who turned 22 last  month, is starting her 13th year playing volleyball, and has plenty of awards to show for it. The 6-foot-3-inch outside hitter was selected as a first-team, All-Sun Belt conference player last year and has put her name in the UNT record books several times, including most assisted blocks with 132 last season. She also participated in the Team USA Volleyball A2 program during the summer, — the highest level a player still in college can participate in Team USA.

But when things aren’t going well and she doesn’t feel like the nationally recognized volleyball player she is, a phone call to her family always seems to give her the inspiration to get back on the grind.

“If I ever feel like I can’t do anything, I will call them and they will remind me or even tell me Bible verses,” Windham said. “They will remind me that everyone has to go through some [stuff] before they can reach the top.”

The situation has changed with Windham and her sister – now, it’s Cassandra who is Courtney’s biggest fan. Cassandra said Courtney has the character traits to help her be the leader she has become on the court for UNT.

“She is so driven,” Cassandra Windham said. “When she sets her mind to something, there is no stopping her from reaching her goals.”

She said that Courtney’s passion and intensity to the game is what makes her one of the nation’s best college players. She describes her sister as a sweet, funny and outgoing individual, which helps her ability on the court to connect with her teammates and become a great leader.

When head coach Andrew Palileo arrived at UNT in April, he could immediately tell what type of player Windham was.

“I knew she was one of the ones that had the most experience and I knew she was someone we would count on a lot this year,” Palileo said.

Palileo said he wants to continue crafting her game so that she can accomplish her goal of playing volleyball for a living.

“My goal since I was a freshman in high school was to go play volleyball professionally overseas,” Windham said. “The coaches are helping me with their connections to find a place with a good salary but also a safe place.”

Outside of volleyball and academics, Windham is also member of the sorority Chi Omega and is the vice president of Student Athlete Affairs.  She loves going out with her friends every now and then, and catching up with TV shows like “Orange is the New Black” and “Dr. Who” on Netflix.

Windham and her current roommate, junior middle blocker Hallie McDonald, have known each other since high school after meeting in club volleyball seven years ago.

The two have bonded since becoming teammates on the UNT team.

“She is just a big goofball and we have so many inside jokes,” McDonald said. “We are just weird together.”

Windham’s future is full of goals and achievement she wants to accomplish, but for now, she’s focused on her final season with the Mean Green.

She can be found along with the rest of team in the Mean Green Volleyball Complex over the next couple of months, and it’s certain her sister will be there in support.

Senior outside hitter Courtney Windham has racked up over 25 career accomplishments in her three years on the mean green volleyball team. -Feature photo by James Coreas / Contributing Photographer 

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