By Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89

A photo cube sits on Coach Lynze Roos’ desk with snapshots from the Wofford volleyball team’s trip to Greece in June 2023. That’s where she said she knew the women had what it took to win a Southern Conference Tournament Championship.

The win on Nov. 19, surrounded by 1,000 supporters in the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium, clinched Wofford volleyball’s first tournament title and bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The story of the historic season for these remarkable student-athletes and coaches, however, started well before Greece.


Roos and her husband, Matt, have two children, a son, Loren, age 12, and a daughter, Lyle, age 10. With a young family and a demanding career, Roos often talks about the importance of being fully present — no matter which “family” she’s with — as a way of giving her best to both. During the summer of 2022, that philosophy was put to the test when Loren was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer.

“Our lives truly turned upside down to fight for our son’s life,” says Roos. “The seniors who graduated in 2023 were so strong for me. They helped keep me grounded and focused when I was at practices and games. They’re not on the roster this year, but in so many ways they are in the fibers of that trophy.”

Loren was diagnosed quickly thanks to Thomas Burns, a physical therapist with the Sports Medicine Institute at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System who works with Wofford student-athletes. Roos took Loren to see Burns after Loren said his leg was sore and Roos found swelling in an unusual spot. Burns referred Loren to Wofford’s team orthopedic, and the orthopedic called in an oncologist. Within days, Loren was beginning chemotherapy.

Loren rang the bell in February 2023 to mark the cancer’s remission, and he has begun a decade of surveillance protocols; the first few years are the most critical.

“We would never have made it without support. President Samhat, Richard Johnson, Elizabeth Rabb ’01, the people in this building, Wofford’s faculty and staff, neighbors, the moms of Loren’s friends, our church, the student-athletes and their families, even people from the larger volleyball community … everyone has had our backs,” says Roos.

Lynze Roos


Loren has a bowl of more than 215 beads that represent each day and each treatment on his journey to overcome cancer. Eighty of those beads represent the nights Roos spent on a hospital couch or cot.

“Those were long days, and anything different gave us a break,” says Roos, who describes the power of the book cart and the snack cart to raise Loren’s spirits … and her own. “Once there was a parade of dogs dressed up for Christmas.”

Those opportunities for Loren to pick out something to distract and bring comfort stuck with Roos, and she and Matt were determined to do something for families now facing the same long days in the hospital. In partnership with the Southern Conference and the coaches in the league, Roos launched Stuff It Cancer, something she hopes will continue annually as part of the championship. All of the teams participated by collecting blankets or stuffed animals in their team colors to donate to the Bi-Lo Children’s Cancer Center at Prisma Heath in Greenville, S.C., where Loren underwent most of his treatments.

“Stuff It Cancer was a way for us to mobilize the people coming to our campus for the Southern Conference Championship Volleyball Tournament,” says Roos, who envisioned a big pile of Furman purple blankets and the Mercer team bringing bears. The coach at The Citadel turned it into a team bonding activity, and he took his players to the fabric store where they bought fleece and made blankets on their road trips. A student-athlete from Mercer brought activity books and crayons and care packages filled with surprises because she, too, had been touched by cancer.

“I was overwhelmed when I saw how much we collected. My first thought was that I wouldn’t be able to get it all in my van,” says Roos. “The coaches in the league, the players and the families made a difference for so many children. It truly was remarkable.”

Volleyball coaches


Roos has never been one to ask for help. Independent, intelligent, capable, tough and creative, she has been accustomed to handling most situations. During the 2022 season while Loren was undergoing chemotherapy and his first surgeries to remove portions of his leg, she learned the value of a support system to help carry the load.

“Sometimes a volleyball dad hug made my day. Sometimes others who had been through this would send a quick text to let me know they were thinking of me. A friend cooked Thanksgiving dinner in July for Loren because that’s what he felt like eating,” says Roos. “I learned that when a terrible thing drops in your lap, people want to help. People want you to know you’re not alone.”

Roos says some of her greatest supporters have been Wofford volleyball’s assistant coaches.

Ali Skayhan, associate head coach, and Justin Sanders, assistant coach, were some of the first people to learn of Loren’s diagnosis. Although their careers have taken them in a different direction, both were cheering from the stands when Wofford won the championship.

“Ali and Justin dragged me through the 2022 season and were such a big part of helping us get to this championship,” says Roos. Skayhan was tapped to lead USC Upstate’s volleyball team in December 2022. Sanders is now Skayhan’s top assistant. “They both have bright futures in the sport, and I’m so grateful that Wofford was a stop on their path.”

Roos hired Ladislav Lelkes as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. He had been a conference champion with East Tennessee State University and understands what it takes to claim a title. Roos filled out the team with assistants Shannah Carter and Allison Whitten, and she considers Anna Gearhart, assistant athletics trainer, integral to the team’s success.

“Assistants are so important. Everyone can bring something new to the table and locker room. They have taught the women breathing techniques. They’re calm. They’re relatable. They encourage the players to take their recovery and nutrition seriously … They’re bright and just all-around great colleagues,” says Roos. “They deserve so much credit for the team’s success. Ladislav has connected with the team in so many ways, and he’s the ultimate girl-dad. His daughter, Oaklee, age 2, has learned to say the players’ names and cheers from the stands on game nights. Shannah and Allison have brought energy and excitement into practice and game day. It has been a fun mix of styles and experience.”


The Wofford volleyball team sat together in one of the corner boxes in the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium during the NCAA Tournament selection show. After winning the SoCon championship, they had spent Thanksgiving with their families and were back on campus ready to practice and to know where and who they would play next.

The 23-7 season felt good from the beginning.

“Preseason felt like October,” says Roos. “We didn’t have to do a lot of teaching.”

The team was picked to finish the season third, and Sarah Barham ’24 was selected for the Preseason All-SoCon Team. They had a good showing at Clemson, beating Middle Tennessee State. They won the Wofford Invitational, then the Jefferson Cup at the University of Virginia by beating the host university in four sets in the final. The team defeated Mercer to open SoCon play and went on a nine-match winning streak before hitting a wall against The Citadel.

“We hit a roadblock in the middle of conference play,” says Roos. “Midterms, cold and allergy season, some long bus trips… all of a sudden the slipper doesn’t fit.”

Roos and her assistants put their heads together and decided that they needed to walk the talk.

“We knew we were 19 players deep, but we’d lost four in a row. It was a risk, but we started four new players at the Furman match,” Roos says. “We won, and we kept winning.”

After that point, Roos was never quite sure what the lineup would look like. Assistant coaches know that Roos has a tradition of naming lineups in her notebook as the season progresses, and their names give some insight into the team’s journey to the top spot this season: Virginia is for Lovers, Autumn Leaves, Slayday, Goobers, Who knows? and Tourney Time sit in a stack on her desk.

“Our depth gave us the benefit of trying different things,” says Roos, “If someone was not having a great day, we had another plan, but that only worked because of the team dynamic. If you’ve been starting, it hurts to watch someone else take your place, but these women embraced the success of their teammates.”

And they kept winning … and winning.


This fall, Roos was nominated for and won an inaugural U.S. Marine Corps and American Volleyball Coaches Association Battles Won Award. The award recognizes volleyball players and coaches who are overcoming obstacles on and off the court. Until she was interviewed for the award, Roos rarely shared publicly about Loren’s fight against osteosarcoma.

“Sharing our story for the profile sort of broke the seal,” says Roos. “Since the beginning, I’ve had to be focused on putting one foot in front of the other. And, I guess, there was part of me that thought if I didn’t talk about it, somehow it wasn’t real. Now that we’re getting our feet under us again, I know that it’s important to tell what has become a story of community and the beauty of college athletics … of connections made and growth and lessons learned.”

Skayhan nominated Roos for the award.

“Not only did Lynze manage to keep her spirits afloat, she also inspired others along the way. Without knowing it, she became a pillar of strength for everyone who knew about Loren,” wrote Skayhan. “Watching her fight with Loren, coach our team and still have emotional energy left to be there for her daughter and husband has been truly a lesson of a lifetime and a testament to the human spirit.”


The volleyball team’s conference tournament championship and NCAA championship appearance followed the women’s basketball team’s regular season SoCon title earlier in the year. Both teams will go down in the Wofford history books.

Future volleyball student-athletes will chase records for kills, digs, blocks and serves. The team’s strong performance against Kentucky in the NCAA tournament is a high-water mark for another team to surpass. This team, these coaches, these families, however, will always hold a special place at Wofford for the intangibles that don’t make the highlight reels.

“It’s unreal to look back on the journey this senior class has made since arriving at Wofford,” reflects Roos. The class of women who will graduate in 2024 arrived on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Classes met online, and their fall volleyball season was postponed until spring. They were required by the NCAA to practice in masks.

“That took a huge act of faith,” says Roos. “They didn’t know when they showed up for preseason if they were going to have a season or not. They didn’t know what classes would look like. I can’t imagine being a parent in that scenario — sending your daughter to college during a global health crisis.”

From that first year, Roos and her assistant coaches knew that this group of seniors would have the opportunity to make a lasting impact.

“Seniors Sarah Barham and Millie Loehr — we call them SpongeBob and Patrick — have been a gift and a joy since arriving on campus. When we say iron sharpens iron, those two define the phrase. Millie got better because of Sarah. Sarah became elite because of Millie.”

Volleyball collage

Both Barham and Loehr were named to All-Southern Conference teams. Barham was named to the first team. She is the third Terrier ever to reach 400 career blocks and is second on Wofford’s all-time leaderboard. She is a psychology major from Summerfield, N.C. Loehr, a psychology and French double major from Durham, N.C., made the second team and tops the all-time college leaderboard in hitting percentage.

Roos praises her seniors more like a proud parent than a coach. “Emily Hodsdon single-handedly changed our offensive style and has been a staple of our success. Abbey Richman is an absolute gem of a human and the mother hen of our team; she has been a fierce competitor and genuine teammate. Addison Foote has contributed some of the very best matches of her career on the biggest stages and came up so clutch in the SoCon Tournament. We would not have won without her play. Elise Schneider was sidelined by injury for three seasons but still voted team captain; I can’t say enough about her character and leadership.”

Schneider says she still gets chills every time she thinks about the season.

“We had what it took to win every year,” she says, “but this year it just felt like we couldn’t lose. Every change felt like a breath of fresh air.”

Roos can name the record holders in seconds when talking about the history of Wofford volleyball. Catie Cronister ’20, Colleen Reilly ’19, Riley Coonan ’21, Jessica Graham ’16, Shanna Hughes Kelly ’10, Molly Bushong Carr ’03, Amanda Ligouri Tecklenburg ’12, Taylor Baird Motts ’15, Liz Buterbaugh ’16, Arden Anderson ’13 … Roos goes on and on about the impact that these and other women who have been on the team have had on the college. Since she took over the program in 2015, she says she’s felt nothing but support.

“The first time I coached the team in Charleston, a dozen women introduced themselves after the match as volleyball alumni. I realized then the deep connection they have because they’d all worn old gold and black on the volleyball court. The support and pride are real,” says Roos. “Today, at my desk, I answered a call from an unknown number, and it was Elizabeth Sheets Leventis ’09. She wanted to say how much she has loved watching the team this year and wanted to support the team with a meal during the NCAA tournament. From the women who took the plunge and formed the first Wofford volleyball team to the first team to play on the NCAA Division I level to the first to compete in the Southern Conference … they are all such an important part of this journey and this moment, and I believe strongly that our current young women understand that legacy.”

Barham says meeting volleyball graduates was a highlight of the experience. “It was mind-blowing to have so much support from people who connected with us because we also played volleyball for Wofford. I get it now, and I’m coming back to Wofford the first chance I get. I will be a Wofford volleyball fan until the day I die.”

“I’m not sure we understood what we were doing while we were doing it,” says Loehr. “But seeing what this has meant to the community — current students, families and graduates of the program — has made us realize that we were part of something bigger than ourselves.”

During Commencement 2023, Roos hooded Trish Gainey, who coached, recruited and nurtured the first women’s teams at the college in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Gainey’s honorary doctorate recognizes her contributions to the college through women’s athletics and her impact beyond Wofford as an educator and community servant.

“I’m coming back to Wofford the first chance I get. I will be a Wofford volleyball fan until the day I die.”

“We stand on the shoulders of Coach Gainey and those first women,” says Roos. “Coach Gainey made the trip to Lexington to watch our women play in the NCAA Tournament. I’m so glad we had the opportunity for that full-circle moment.”

Roos pauses and looks at the SoCon championship trophy sitting on her desk. “There’s so much that goes into any championship, but our championship transcends volleyball,” says Roos. “The way Wofford rallied around me and my family … the way our student-athletes and families supported my family and each other … I’ll always remember this season,these young women — their resilience, spirit and love for each other — and this community of support.”


After the season, Loren underwent his sixth surgery, this time to remove his leg. He’s now walking with a prosthetic, and he’s getting stronger so he can do all of the things he wants to do. Again, thanks to a community of support, Loren can see a future of skiing, rock climbing and playing in sports.

Six members of the team were named to the Southern Conference Academic All-Conference team: Barham, Foote, Hodsdon, Loehr, Sarah MacLean ’25 and Mary Emily Morgan ’25. Each had a minimum 3.3 GPA and played in at least half of the season’s matches. Loehr and Morgan also were named to the College Sports Communicators 2023 Academic All-District Team.

For Roos and the volleyball team, spring practice and conditioning are underway. Although the seniors are no longer on the roster, they are at every practice, mentoring, guiding and helping build skills and confidence in a young, energetic team that’s ready to make their own mark in the Wofford history books.


A golden finish to their careers as Wofford student-athletes is only the beginning for each of these bright, engaging and competitive Terriers.


Psychology major
Summerfield, N.C.

Barham chose Wofford because she loved the players and the other women she met on her recruiting visit. She will use her fifth year of eligibility to play volleyball while earning a master’s degree in the field of sports psychology.

“Our team, our coaches, our program have dealt with lots of adversity, but individually and as a group we were strong enough to turn things that are objectively bad into points of growth and improvement,” says Barham, who points out that the team, although talented, was ranked third in pre-season polls. “We weren’t supposed to win, but we knew we could and should win. This season taught me how powerful that desire and that determination can be.”


Psychology major
sociology and anthropology minor
Louisville, Ky.

Foote begins occupational therapy school at Bellarmine University in the fall. She also will be playing volleyball as a fifth-year transfer for the Knights.

“We had a couple of big wins early on that built our confidence,” says Foote, who played close to her Louisville, Ky., home during the NCAA Tournament match at the University of Kentucky. “When I look back 10 years from now, I know — even while I’m in it — that I can say this was a great experience, something that helped make me who I am.”


Biology major
studio art minor
Alpharetta, Ga.

Hodsdon says the team would not have been as successful this year without the radical support of the Wofford volleyball families. She will use her fifth year of eligibility to earn a master’s degree in health sciences. She also plans to prepare her application to dental school.

“The winning mindset we’ve had for the past three seasons was practice for this year,” says Hodsdon. “Balancing academics with everyday practices and training is hard, but I wouldn’t change a thing from my four years at Wofford. I feel ready for the future.”


French and psychology double major
Durham, N.C.

Loehr was accepted into the master’s degree program in public health at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass. She will play volleyball for the Huskies as well. After that, she plans to attend medical school.

“Part of our success came from the way we reacted to mistakes,” says Loehr. “From Greece until now, we built a team around a culture of doing it right and getting it right. We learned how to commit and achieve.”


Biology major
sociology and anthropology minor
Carmel, Ind.

Richman will be entering the pre-PA program at Southeast Missouri State University. There she will play her fifth year of volleyball and gain clinical hours to apply to physician assistant school the following year.

“We were always playing for the other person,” says Richman. “It’s going to be weird not to be so close to my best friends and teammates day in and day out, but they will be in my life forever. You don’t get that everywhere.”


Biology and finance double major
Oconomoc, Wis.

Schneider experienced back-to-back, seasonending injuries. She will serve as an assistant coach for Carol University while earning her MBA in healthcare administration.

“We grew as people, not just players. When I came in as a recruit, I expected to be All-SoCon every year. That didn’t happen, but I leave here with the love and support of six of the best friends anyone could ever have. … I’m getting ESPN Plus just so I can watch my teammates. And I’m ready to come back as soon as I can.”