One of the first things novice spectators notice when they watches the UCSB women’s volleyball team play is the team’s infectious attitude, an attitude that wins people over and makes fans root for them.
One of the next aspects of the team they notice is that a large portion of that energy seems to be coming from one girl: a very tall, blond girl with a huge smile on her face. That girl is Brieanna Lampe, a senior outside hitter for one of the most successful volleyball programs in the country.
Those same fans might watch and marvel at the grace, ease and confidence with which “Brie” plays. But then something might happen, and all of a sudden that same girl is now pummeling through the net.
“It’s my senior year now, so I definitely feel more confident,” Lampe said. “I try to look and feel confident and lead by example. Most of all, I just try to be consistent on the court and play with energy and attitude because we need that this year.”
For someone who didn’t know Brie four years ago, these two images might not be all that difficult to process. But if anyone had known Brie when she was just a scared little freshman from Nevada City, then a person might be more able to fully appreciate just how far Brie has come.
Not only has Lampe overcome adversity in her athletic and academic careers, but she has also conquered a life-threatening disease and is one of only two athletes competing in NCAA-sanctioned sports with cystic fibrosis.
Cystic fibrosis, or CF, is a hereditary disease that affects the mucus and sweat glands. CF causes the buildup of thick mucus in the lungs, often causing lung infections. CF can also cause the malabsorption of nutrients, sometimes leading to malnutrition.
Since being diagnosed with CF at the age of six, Lampe has learned to cope with its effects and has all but beaten the disease. Lampe attributes part of her success to learning how to live a normal life with CF.
“[Cystic fibrosis] has taught me to be more disciplined,” Lampe said. “If I start to get a cold I have to take my medicine right away because that cold can turn into pneumonia if I’m not on top of it.”
UCSB Head Coach Kathy Gregory has seen first-hand how well Lampe deals with CF, and how it has driven her to become one of the Gauchos’ top players.
“When she first came here, she wasn’t in the best physical shape,” Gregory said. “But as she has been here she has gotten much stronger. We have great doctors here, the air is great and she is one of the most physical players on the team.”
This season Lampe is having her finest year ever on the court. Through just 13 matches, Brie has tallied 113 kills, 34 digs and 14 blocks. Lampe has already hit better than .500 in four matches and is hitting an impressive .283 for the year. Lampe is also on pace to break her single season best in kills and should crush her own previous best for hitting percentage.
“She can dig as well as anyone on the team,” Gregory said. “She is as quick as any outside hitter and she could be in the top 3 or 4 on the team in digs but we just don’t need that from her position.”
In addition to being a leader on the court, Lampe has inspired her teammates with her positive approach and hard work.
“She’s had to overcome a lot,” sophomore middle blocker Francina Edmonds said. “It’s an inspiration for anyone to overcome what she has and play at this level.”
Both teammates and coaches alike are amazed at the effort it has taken Lampe to get to this point in her career, and Gregory believes that her success is a byproduct of dedication and desire.
“She has worked very hard both mentally and physically to overcome the obstacles in front of her. She has been determined to have this kind of year and she has found a way.”
Though the Gauchos have not lived up to expectations this season, Lampe now believes that they have turned the corner and are on the road to a superb season.
“We still need more energy and attitude on the court,” Lampe said, “but winning is contagious. This team is very optimistic about its future, and our team chemistry is getting better and better.”
Note: The UCSB Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, with the women’s volleyball team, will hold a fundraising event to aid the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund this Friday. The Gauchos will play their first game at the Thunderdome at 7 p.m. against Fullerton on Friday. Half of the proceeds collected during the match will go to the Fund, which helps the relief efforts occurring in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.