Communication and leadership have played a vital role in Becca Skidmore's college career.

As a middle hitter for the Ohio Dominican University women's volleyball team, Skidmore has become a vocal leader for the Panthers despite missing time the past two seasons because of injuries.

The 2015 Westerville North High School graduate utilizes those same attributes in the classroom and as a member of ODU's student-athlete advisory committee to the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.

She knows how to deliver points on and off the court.

"I know what kind of game we play so I have a good volleyball IQ," said Skidmore, who is preparing for her senior year. "I know the opponent's weaknesses and our different defenses, and I try to get us in the right place. I can find the opposing players who have weaknesses, and I can expose them. I communicate that to my teammates on the floor or, if I'm on the bench, I relay it in to them."

ODU coach Jennifer Fekpe said Skidmore's savvy play and ability to lead have been a big influence on her teammates.

"Becca understands concepts quickly, and she has a very competitive mindset," Fekpe said. "She's very focused when she comes into practice, and she keeps her team focused on the objectives of the game.

"She is very coachable, and she is very aggressive and wants to win. Off the court, she works hard to be a leader. As a program, we want our athletes to be selfless and self-aware, and she works on that. She's awesome."

As a sophomore, Skidmore missed two months after breaking her right thumb. She also missed five matches last fall because of a sprained right ankle.

"Becca has been injury-prone," Fekpe said. "She has been fighting through that to get on the court. We need her. She is a very offensive player for us.

"All of her workouts are geared toward being preventative (health-wise). She is good in the weight room and she can move a lot of weight. She can hit the ball the hardest of anyone on our team. Everything she does is very disciplined."

The Panthers went 5-26 overall last season and finished fifth (3-14) in the GMAC-West Division behind champion Findlay (15-2).

Skidmore was second on the team in kills with 172 despite missing those five matches. Team-leader Alexis Young had 194 while playing in all 31 matches.

"I'm more of a power hitter," said Skidmore, who also had 45 blocks. "I can come out and hit hard and power though blocks.

"The big thing is staying aware that it's a team game and not a 'me' sport. Sometimes I try to do too much and feel like I'm the only one who can fix the problems. I get anxious, but I've learned to get my teammates involved."

As a senior at North, Skidmore was first-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division as the Warriors finished 16-6 overall and 9-5 in the league.

A biology major with a 3.4 GPA, Skidmore is a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee to the GMAC. She enjoys trying to make a difference for her peers.

"It's an honor to be the volleyball representative for SAAC, and I have learned so much from it," Skidmore said. "We had a conference in Cincinnati this year and I made a lot of friends and also got some new ideas on how to help the athletics programs. We're all similar schools and face similar challenges so it's great to get new ideas that can make things easier for our student-athletes."

As her senior year approaches, Skidmore said she's happy with the growth she has made as a volleyball player and as a member of the ODU community.

"(Fekpe) is big on being a good person before being a good player," Skidmore said. "She makes it easy to prioritize academics over athletics.

"First and foremost, she wants us to grow and learn as people and players. She wants us to be learning how to become better people. That's the most important thing."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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