Sports

Kasey Bell and Paige Kaufman: The Women’s Volleyball Team Hype Girls

Steve Woltmann | Loyola AthleticsJunior defensive specialist Paige Kaufman has averaged 1.83 digs per set throughout her three year career with Loyola.

What do bowling, limbo and deadlifting all have in common? They’re all part of Loyola women’s volleyball players Kasey Bell and Paige Kaufman’s sideline hype routine. 

Bell and Kaufman, who are both 20 years old, have stepped into the role of the team’s hype girls, cheering on their teammates and making them laugh. Their team thrives off lighthearted energy, and the duo know exactly what to do on the sidelines to get their teammates going on the court. 

Bell and Kaufman help build up their team in many ways on the sidelines. Some of their rituals include pretending to bowl, pretending to play limbo and mimicking baseball swings. The antics celebrate plays made on the court to keep their teammates’ energy up. 

The two hold the core energy and humor for the team. Head coach Amanda Berkley said this is key in helping remind the players to loosen up while playing. 

“We always play our best when we’re smiling and hyping each other up,” Kaufman said. “We thrive in an environment that is a little more chill, still focused but a little more lighthearted.” 

During the pandemic, the team was under strict rules to curb the spread of COVID-19. Most times, social interactions were limited outside the gym. The team played in an empty arena during their postponed season. No fans, no band, cheer or dance team brought the energy a normal season would have. 

Bell and Kaufman said this forced them to create tighter relationships than ever before. They had to bring that energy themselves — the duo understood that assignment.

“The court feeds off the energy of the bench,” Bell said. “We try to put the girls on the court in the best position to succeed, so we try to bring as much energy as we can and be the loudest group in the gym.” 

Berkley sees the bond between the team and knows the importance it carries for them. She said the pandemic gave the girls a reason to bond on a deeper level due to the loss of a normal year. 

“[Being close with each other] definitely heightens the team chemistry on and off the court,” Kaufman said. “You can tell how close we are with each other on the court, because we hang out and are best friends off the court. Some teams that we play in the valley aren’t as tight as we are, and it shows.” 

The rituals have been around since before Bell and Kaufman came to Loyola and are a big part of the team’s energy. During their first season the team had an inflatable donut they brought to every game, and was the root of many jokes that year. 

Steve Woltmann | Loyola Athletics Junior Kasey Bell plays as one of three middle blockers on the Ramblers roster.

Bell said one of her most significant memories is from her first year on the team at the Blue & Gold tournament in Toledo, Ohio in a match against University of Toledo.

During the match, both coaches went back and forth challenging plays, which led to the officials having to refer to the rulebook. The challenge took 30 minutes and both teams took advantage of the break and held a dance off— which Loyola ended up winning. The middle blocker said that was one of her most memorable experiences, even in her first season. 

Kaufman’s favorite memory also comes from her first year. During a challenge, the defensive specialist said she laid down on the donut and her teammates pretended to massage her, fan her and bring her drinks. She said they were having so much fun on the sidelines, one wouldn’t think they were playing in a volleyball game. 

Berkley said the team has had many sideline rituals over the years, and some especially stand out to her. 

One she recalls from last year in a match against University of Southern Illinois. Sophomore middle blocker Anna Feldkamp scored, and Kaufman laid down while the other players “performed” CPR on her. Berkley said she accidentally tripped over Kaufman after not seeing her on the ground. 

“Their role on the bench is hugely important to the team both on and off court,” she said. “They are leaders on this team, and we look to both Kasey and Paige to provide energy, humor, and support for the team on the court.” 

Loyola Students can see Kaufman and Bell’s sideline antics at Loyola’s next game Oct. 22 against Bradley University. The game is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN 3. 

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