PALO ALTO, Calif. (May 9, 2015) – Thomas Jaeschke was riding high in June of 2014.
He had just led the Loyola Ramblers to the NCAA Men’s DI-II Championship – the school’s second NCAA title in any sport. He was the MIVA Player of the Year and a First Team AVCA All-American. Then he got a call from U.S. Men’s Head Coach John Speraw asking Jaeschke (Wheaton, Ill.) to train with the U.S. Men’s National Team over the summer.
| Thomas Jaeschke attacks for Loyola against UC Irvine.
“I was riding such a wave of emotions,” Jaeschke, 22, said. “I remember telling my mom, ‘My life really could not be better right now.’ ”
Then, two weeks into training with the National Team, he broke his foot. He had surgery and found himself using crutches to get around the American Sports Center in Anaheim, Calif.
“It definitely brought me back down to earth.”
But as with many setbacks, this one had a silver lining for Jaeschke, who stayed in California for rehab and got a chance to watch and learn from some of the best players in the world.
He took that knowledge back to Loyola for his junior season, leading the Ramblers to their second-straight NCAA Championship match and being named the AVCA DI-II Player of the Year.
“His leadership I think is the big piece that’s really grown in the last ear,” Loyola Head Coach Shane Davis said. “It takes the focus off himself and makes sure he is a good teammate and a good leader.”
Jaeschke agreed that being a good teammate had become a priority.
“Across the board, I hold myself to a higher standard,” he said. “Not only hitting and passing, but the kind of player I am with my teammates and being someone they can lean on.”
Along with playing in his second straight national championship match, Jaeschke will get another shot with the National Team this summer. He is on the preliminary roster for the FIVB World League meaning he will train with the defending World League champions in hopes of making the team that travels to the weekend matches.
Even if he does not make a World League traveling team, he still stands a good chance of competing at the Pan American Games and/or the Pan American Cup.
“Being on the World League roster is a huge step. The next step is making the traveling team and then, if and when that’s accomplished then you push (to be) a serving sub… and then you push for a (starting) spot. You always want more and you always want to do more. But you have to take it step-by step.”
Those steps should be easier to take without crutches.