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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Nothing Short of Awesome

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BS vs. Kent 092411

UMB has a curious trend within its athletic department right now. The shortest players on the Beacons rosters have been coming up huge this year.

College athletic recruiting has always been about three things: size, size and size. If you don’t have it you won’t get any looks. The brigade of undersized stars at UMB are showing everyone that using that strategy might not be the best way to go.

Men’s basketball coach Charlie Titus is noticing the trend.

“For us last year Mike Mitchell was our best player and he was the shortest on the team,” Titus said

When asked about whether he takes size into account when he recruits, he said, “If there is a 5’8″ guy and a 6’0″ guy with the same skill set, we’ll take the 6’0″ guy. The smaller player has to be at a much higher skill level [to get looked at].”

That could be a major reason why there is such a concentration in skill level with smaller athletes in college. Short athletes coming out of highschool have to be extremely prolific and talented to even get looked at.

Kayla Wilson, a junior on the women’s volleyball team, plays Libero at the almighty height of 5’2″, a half foot shorter than any of her teammates. While her position has been traditionally played by shorter girls, Wilson is particularly short.

“My position these days is being played by girls like 5’7 or taller. They can cover more court, with me being 5’2″ I have speed but that’s about it,” she said. “More than 75% of Liberos are taller than me right now, but you still see some girls who are shorter than I am.”

When asked why she thinks shorter girls are disappearing from the game, she replied, “I think [coaches] are thinking of a more reasonable height to play back row like 5’7″ because they can still hit the ball to the back row and put power into it.”

Krista Ledin, at 5’3″, is one of the shortest players for women’s soccer, but that hasn’t stopped her from being one of the biggest stars this year for the Beacons. She leads the ladies with 10 goals and was honored with LEAC rookie of the week last week. When she was asked if she thinks opponents overlook her because of her height, she said, “Absolutely.”

“They look at me and underestimate my aggressiveness on the playing field. They get surprised once we start playing.”

“I have never been affected by my height,” she said. “It’s been an advantage, if anything, because people underestimate me. It affects the way I play because I am able to maneuver the ball around players and beat most players to the ball.” Ledin is on pace for an MVP season for the Beacons, and she recently won rookie of the week.

“I love being short and wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said.

Men’s hockey star Travis Daniel loves his 5’6″, 150-pound frame when he’s on the ice.

“I feel like [being undersized] gives me an advantage because I can move around bigger guys easier and I can dodge and get away from hits quicker,” he said. “Opponents always underestimate me because of my height. Coaches have also looked past me because of my size. I’ve heard a lot of short comments towards me throughout my hockey career, but it never bothers me.”

UMB coaches have done a great job about not overlooking players because they’re undersized, and they’ve been rewarded with some real gems. Wilson, Ledin, Daniel, and Han have all been huge performers in their time at UMB, and they are showing that “size matters” is simply a cliché.