October Printing Concepts Scholar-Athlete of the Month | Alyssa Kasaris, Mount Union
-By Tim Rogers
She has earned athletic honors from the Ohio Athletic Conference on several occasions and now the University of Mount Union’s Alyssa Kasaris has added an academic award to her list.
The senior volleyball libero from North Royalton has been chosen as the OAC Printing Concepts Scholar-Athlete of the Month.
That goes with her twice being named to the all-OAC team and three times being named as the OAC Defensive Player of the Week.
Just as in Kasaris’s volleyball world, the hits keep on coming.
Kasaris is currently carrying a 3.566 grade-point average as an exercise science major with a minor in psychology. She is scheduled to graduate in May but also has one year of athletic eligibility remaining thanks to what is known as the “Covid year” in which athletes were awarded an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA.
While Kasaris has not made up her mind on whether she would return for a final season of volleyball, coach Melissa Mahnke-Morrison has laid out the welcome mat.
“The Covid waiver has been awesome for so many players and teams,” Mahnke-Morrison said via an electronic interview. “If Lyss chose to take her Covid year I would be ecstatic. We would love to have her out there for another season. However, I understand that everyone’s situation for the future is different and it won’t be for everyone to use.”
While exercise science is her major her career interests are leaning more towards psychology, sports psychology to be exact.
Her aim is to become a sports psychologist at either a Division I, Division II or Division III university and she is drawing on her experience as a collegiate athlete.
“I think the need is there, especially at the college level and knowing behind the scenes all the pressures that are there,” she said. “It’s not easy for your mental health.”
Kasaris has been easy on her coach’s mental health, both athletically and spiritually.
“Lyss is a very smart player,” Mahnke-Morrison said. “She truly understands the game and looks to get better every day. She loves watching film on our team, as well as on our opponents.”
The preparation has paid off.
Kasaris has been an integral part of Mount’s recent nine-match winning streak – which included a 25-23, 25-21 and 25-21 upset of nationally-ranked Wittenberg and -- its 13-4 record.
As the defensive specialist she leads the Raiders and is third in the OAC with 316 digs, a mark that also stands eighth in the nation. Her 5.54 digs per set also leads the team, is third in the conference and 23d in the NCAA.
In a recent match against Hiram she posted a season-high 36 digs, a statistic that is produced by a heavy dose of want-to as well as can-do.
“Lyss leads our team in floor burns,” said Mahnke-Morrison. “I’m not sure I can recall a time when she didn’t have pre-tape or wrap under her kneepads due to the floor burns and scabs from diving all over the floor. She will compete until the end every single day.”
That includes competing in the classroom, where she posted back-to-back semesters of a 4.0 GPA.
“The Scholar Athlete Award represents the student-athlete perspective that we believe is the foundation of Division III athletics,” said Athletic Director Mike Parnell. “When you find someone who can represent that in the right way it makes you very proud for them and for the university in that we are able to produce those types of student-athletes that can raise to that level. It’s a great honor for them but it’s a reflection on what we believe is the most important thing about being a Division III athlete. That it is academics first and athletics second.”
It does not take long for Kasaris’s outgoing personality to highlight a conversation. She speaks freely about her love of the game and smiles and laughs often, especially when talking golf, her newest interest. It is easy to understand why she was voted as a team captain.
“Lyss has been our libero since she stepped into our program as a freshman,” Mahnke-Morrison said. “Each year she has grown tremendously as a person and a player. She was voted as a captain and is someone that our team looks to because of her work ethic and play. She leaves everything on the floor each time she steps out there.”
She may be stepping out there for another year. Maybe not. Either way, Kasaris has made her mark both athletically and academically.