Poth’s Lauren Waclawczyk is woman of influence
By Jacie Scott
BATON ROUGE, La. -- The American rock band “Journey” once wrote a song about a small-town girl who took a midnight train to find something new. This is a fitting description for senior defensive specialist Lauren Waclawczyk. Minus the midnight train, of course.
Waclawczyk grew up in Poth, a small town outside of San Antonio, Texas. She mentioned that growing up in a small town means that you do what you are told. In the 7th grade, she was told to play volleyball, marking the beginning of a successful career in the sport.
After graduating high school with a class size of 73, Waclawczyk embarked on a new journey that brought her to a larger city and a new state as she chose to continue her volleyball career at LSU.
“I wanted something new,” said Waclawczyk. “I didn’t want to stay close to home because I wanted to see and do everything on my own.”
She knew that she made the right decision because of how the program resembled a small family.
“I felt like I was going to be taken care of,” said Waclawczyk. “The coaches were so loving and kind of like mother-father figures.”
Waclawczyk’s role on the team became evident her freshman year. She was the small-town girl with a big voice. On Waclawczyk’s very first day at preseason practice as an LSU Tiger, Head Coach Fran Flory told her that she wanted to kick her out of practice because her voice was so annoying. Annoying or not, Flory saw how Waclawczyk’s voice could be an asset to the team and she took advantage of it.
“Her freshman year, we would put her in charge of team meetings,” said Flory. “We would put her in charge of leading discussions and pointing people in the right way.”
In her career at LSU, Waclawczyk has garnered numerous accolades, including 2008 SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll and 2009 All-Louisiana Second Team. As Waclawczyk’s career at LSU progressed, her role as a vocal leader for the team has progressed as well. She has been described as the heart of the team, the person you could go to about any matters. She uses her voice to show her passion for the game and anyone who has ever witnessed her in action can attest to that.
“She gives her all, every practice, every game and she leads everyone else to do that,” said junior libero Meghan Mannari. “She’s gained that trust and respect to where she can tell us to do something. We respond immediately and do it.”
After two years as the libero, Waclawczyk made the transition to defensive specialist. While her title on the court may have changed, her role on the court did not.
“We’re going to do what’s best for the team, so no matter what position I play, I’m trying to just do what I can do best,” said Waclawczyk.
Flory commended Waclawczyk for making the transition in such a respectable manner.
“It’s a difficult role change, but for her to step back and say ‘it’s okay, it’s for the betterment of the team,’ I think this team respects her beyond anybody else,” said Flory.
Waclawczyk’s main goal for her final season is for the team to be successful, not just in the sense of wins and losses, but also in learning from those wins and losses. She states that she would love to go further at the NCAA Tournament than she’s ever been and that it would be great to win the SEC Championship for a second time in her career.
As of now, Waclawczyk is one of 11 players to record over 1,000 digs, a goal that she is proud to have accomplished in her career at LSU.
“It means so much to be up there with some of those names, especially Elena Martinez, who kind of showed me the ropes my freshman year,” said Waclawczyk. “It feels good to be up there with them.”
Waclawczyk’s role as a leader extends off the court, as well. She collaborated with fellow senior Michele Williams to launch the “Geaux Books” campaign. The campaign is a season-long book drive where the team collects books to benefit the Everybody Reads Pro-gram through Volunteer in Public Schools. She wanted to give back to the Baton Rouge community and help out the public schools as well. The two seniors felt that this would be a way for numerous people to get involved in the community.
“Michele and I got together and came up with the book drive and thought it would be something that everyone could be a part of,” said Waclawczyk.
The business management major graduates in December, ending an influential career at LSU. Without a doubt, Waclawczyk has influenced not only her teammates, but also her coaches.
“I’ve learned from her, probably that somebody from a small town can succeed on a really high level,” said Flory. “Hard work will get you a long way in life, and I think she epitomizes that.”
Waclawczyk said that one thing she has learned in her college career is that being an LSU Tiger means making a difference whether it’s on or off the court. That is one lesson that she will carry with her, no matter the journey she embarks on post-graduation.