Baska: destined for greatness
Published: Monday, November 4, 2013
Updated: Monday, November 4, 2013 18:11
From the moment she stepped on the court at Arkansas State, Megan Baska has been making history. And after her performance on Oct. 25 against the University of Texas at Arlington, the senior libero of Overland Park, Kan. is the second player in school history to record 2,000 digs in her career.
The second set was nearing its end when head coach David Rehr saw arms’ flailing from the media relations table and after quick nods and thumbs up, the game was stopped in its tracks. The home crowd looked confused until the announcer came on to let everyone know Baska accomplished a feat that hadn’t been done at A-State since the days of Margie Kolat McGee 19 years before.
“The 2,000th dig is the 2,000th dig no matter where it is, but God definitely planned that very well, making it special to be able to share it in front of my dad, who came down for the game, my friends and the community,” she said. “I was in shock mainly and overwhelmed with thankfulness. I felt a lot of love from everyone.”
Growing up, Baska wasn’t the only child playing sports.
She has an older brother David who plays football and baseball at the Air Force Academy and a younger brother Michael who plays rugby at A-State and was on the national championship winning 7s team last year. While some may say it’s challenging to raise three kids who are all active in sports, the Baska parents welcomed it.
Their mother, Susane Baska, said she enjoys watching her children do something they love, something that makes them happy.
“I was very fortunate to have parents that let me play and try many different activities and sports when I was younger; volleyball seemed to come most natural,” she said. “When I was 10, I tried out for a club team so I could take some lessons but ended up making the 12s team. I’ve played ever since then.”
Susane said Baska told her club coach after two years of playing that she wanted to play volleyball in college. With that decision, Baska knew hard work would be her greatest tool.
“I definitely had times where I was worn out or wasn’t sure I wanted to keep playing, but thankfully my parents always made me look at the bigger picture and kept pushing and supporting me,” Baska said.
“I was also raised with the understanding that if you are blessed with the talent to get school paid for, you made that happen or I would be paying a lot of money back later, so I sacrificed things in the present time to make the future happen.”
Michael said watching his sister work hard rubbed off onto him.
“She gives it all she’s got and she’s really emotional in what she does. I kind of got that from her, give everything I got,” he said. “She’s a great athlete and I love her to death; I’m really proud of her.”
Before the match against the University of Arkansas at Little Rock on Oct. 30, a small ceremony was held in her honor. In front of fans, friends and family, she was handed the ball she got her 2,000th dig with. And with a smile from ear to ear, she ran up the bleachers to her mom to hand her the ball to hold during the match.
“I’m very proud of her,” Susane said. “I think it shows that persistence, hard work and the love of the game pays off.”
It isn’t unusual to read in the paper or see on TV, a story of an athlete breaking records and letting the fame get to them, but Baska is different. Interview after interview with her over the years shows that her main goal is to be a team player. Her coach can attest to that.
“It’s not about Megan, it’s not a Megan show. She’s not a diva in any form of fashion. She is a kid that just wants to play volleyball,” Rehr said. “She’s humble. She is not a boastful kid. She’s not wondering what her stats numbers are. I’ve never heard her care about anything but the team winning.”
Although Rehr is in his second season as head coach, the impression Baska has left on him won’t fade.
“You know, when you inherit a team, you want to know everybody’s role. Looking at it, I knew Megan was the libero the year before and I made the statement “whoever wears the [libero] jersey needs to have a leadership role on the team” and Megan’s first comment was “my jersey?” From the first day I got here, the first meeting I had, it was her jersey and she made me aware of it,” he said.
“She doesn’t talk a lot [on the court], but she doesn’t have to. She leads by her actions and her teammates respect her so much that they don’t want to fail her. I think the legacy that she leaves is that she never shortchanged anybody. She never took a practice off, she never took a game off. She’s just a kid you’d want to have as your daughter.”
Majoring in exercise science and wanting to do personal training, she said she would also like to be a coach.
“I want to coach, not sure exactly at what level yet, but would like to inspire little girls and give them the same opportunity that many coaches have given me,” she said. “My time here at ASU has been an unforgettable experience.”