What a Rush
Mesa senior has overcome her shyness to become a leader
It starts low, like a purring cat.
And when Megan Rush connects with the serve, it hits a crescendo: ...RUSH!
Her last name lends itself to the student-section chant that’s been a mainstay at Colorado Mesa University volleyball matches the past four years. The Rrrrrrr-USH!, however, got its start for an entirely different reason than to pump up the senior libero.
“I was very, very shy,” Rush said of her freshman year. “I did not talk at all. When the upperclassmen would talk to me I would turn purple.
“People would hold signs in the stands that said ‘Rush Don’t Blush.’ It was a running joke.”
The upperclassmen on the 2009 team got some of their friends to start the Rrrrrrr-RUSH! chant, in part to see if the freshman would blush on the court.
“For whatever reason, when I was on the court I was fine, but as soon as I went to the bench, if I would hear someone in the crowd yell to me ... purple. I don’t think it worked that I was aware of, I don’t know that I turned purple, but it kind of stuck,” she said.
Every year before the first home match, she’s wondered if this group of students will continue the chant when she goes back to serve. And every year, they do.
The young woman who was so shy that her face matched the Mavs’ crimson jerseys if you looked at her, has become the quarterback of the CMU volleyball team, directing the defense and chattering all of the time. She’s one of four seniors who will be recognized Saturday when the Mavericks (13-8, 7-6 RMAC) play No. 25 Adams State (17-4, 10-3) at 4 p.m. at Brownson Arena, and she has been the soul of the Mavs this season.
Friday night CMU plays Western State (2-19, 1-12) at 7 p.m., looking to end a five-match losing streak, all against teams from the East Division of the conference.
Rush credits former liberos Meredith Dolny and Whitney Howard for bringing her out of her shell on and off the court.
“I think that has a lot to do with playing my freshman year behind Mer and Whit,” she said. “They were a huge help making me comfortable and confident on the court. They were always talking to me and helping me out. Playing two years under Whit, I learned a lot of leadership.”
They also instilled in her the drive that causes her to propel her body across the floor to dig an attack, which she’s done 1,205 times in her career. That puts her sixth on the Mavericks’ all-time list with at least six matches remaining. She’ll likely finish in the top four all-time, based on her average of 5.2 digs per set this season.
“You never know if you’re going to touch the ball unless you hit the floor,” she said. “Those girls gave everything they had on every single ball, and that’s what’s expected in this program.”
She’s overcome a lot of her shyness — “I did not talk to anyone my freshman year except Kelly Regimbal, and that’s when it was just us” — but still says she’s not an outgoing person.
“On my team, yeah, they would tell you I never shut up, they get sick of me,” she said with an easy laugh. “When I’m in my comfort zone, I’m not shy at all, but new situations, I would say I’m not extremely shy anymore, but I would not classify myself as outgoing.”
Before she left Chandler, Ariz., for Grand Junction before her freshman year, Rush was frightened about being on a team or at a school where she didn’t know a soul. She attended a small parochial school and knew just about everyone, thanks to her older brother and sister attending the same school.
“I begged my mom to let me stay home. She said no,” said Rush, who has one more year of school and student teaching before she graduates and hopes to teach kindergarten. “I’m so thankful for it now. I couldn’t have picked a better fit for me.”