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Published: Tuesday, 10/19/2010

Bedford grad's volleyball jersey is retired by Owens

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Don't look for any Owens Community College volleyball player to wear the No. 11 uniform ever again.

That's because the school retired that number in a ceremony on Oct. 13 to honor Stephanie Champine, a Lambertville, Mich., native and Bedford graduate who virtually rewrote the Express volleyball record book.

"When I first found out I was going to have my number retired, I was super-excited," Champine said. "When I found out I was the first-ever female athlete to have my number retired, and just the second person in school history, I was even more excited."

Champine spent the 2006-07 seasons at Owens, and when she was finished she was simply the most successful hitter in school history.

She had 595 kills as a freshman and 534 as a sophomore, the two biggest-single season totals an Owens player has every produced.

The 1,129 kills she amassed in two seasons is 250 more than the next-highest total.

What's more, Champine holds the school's single-match record with 35 kills against Mott Community College on Oct. 3, 2006.

She also holds the Express record for hitting percentage in a season (36.0 percent) and career (33.0 percent).

"When she came to us from Bedford High School, we knew we were getting a good player," Owens volleyball coach Sonny Lewis said. "Stephanie is a talented athlete, and she came from a great program at Bedford run by Jodi Manore.

"I thought she was being overlooked by other colleges."

Good thing for the Express that Champine was overlooked. Because of her fine work, Champine was voted a Division II second team All-American by National Junior College Athletic Association as a freshman and received honorable mention All-American Honors as a sophomore.

What's more, she helped the Express to a pair of Ohio Community College Athletic Conference volleyball titles and a 69-23 record.

"She took our program to the next level," Lewis said. "She would listen, she did the things that were asked of her, and she was both a great player and a great teammate."

Champine said she never was motivated by breaking records at Owens.

"I didn't know what the records were, and I didn't go for things like kills trying to set records," she said. "In fact, the thing I'll remember most about Owens is all the fun times I had with the team.

The fun continued when Champine went to Austin Peay, a Division-I school in Clarksville, Tenn. She twice earned All-Ohio Valley Conference honors and was named OVC player of the year as a senior in 2009. Champine also was named to the Midwest all-region first team by the American Volleyball Coaches Association as both a junior and senior.

She finished with 893 career kills for the Governors, the second-highest total for a junior-college transfer in school history.

Champine's play at Owens and after she left the school made the decision to retire her No. 11 jersey an easy one, Lewis said.

"How many times do you have a two-time All American in your program?" Lewis said. "I approached our athletic director [Michael Riccardi] and said, 'If we're going to honor people by retiring their number, this is the kind of person we want to honor.

"She's just a good person. She's very unassuming; although she's won a number of awards, you wouldn't know if by talking to her."

Champine deflected the credit for her outstanding career to others.

"First of all, I couldn't have done it without my teammates," she said. "It was fun to be with them both on and off the court; it was two of the best years of my life.

"And I give a lot of credit to Sonny as well. He had confidence in me, and he helped me improve. And he knows how to push the girls without making them hate the sport."

She also was quick to credit the lessons she learned while at Bedford.

"They have such a great volleyball program there," she said. "I learned that while you have to be good, you also have to play hard to be successful. You can never let a ball drop, and you always have to play aggressively."

Champine said the ceremony retiring her No. 11 jersey at Owens was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"It's something I look forward to telling my kids about one day," she said.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com or

419-724-6481.



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