After only 10 months away from Hanover, Dartmouth women's volleyball standout Maria Stutsman y Marquez '98 will be returning to Leede Arena in the fall.
Known for her defensive prowess and sprawling backcourt digs, Stutsman y Marquez will find herself in a new position: seated courtside as the newest assistant coach of the Big Green.
"I expect to bring another leadership role, different from being captain, player or head coach," Stutsman y Marquez said. "I certainly want to be some type of inspirational leader for the girls."
Stutsman y Marquez captained the Big Green to a second place finish in the Ivy League Tournament during her senior year, and ended her Big Green career with school records for aces in a game and a season.
She finished second on the team in digs in both 1996 and 1997, despite playing in only half of the total points contested.
She returns to Dartmouth after graduating in June 1998 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Anthropology.
Stutsman y Marquez transferred to Dartmouth as a junior in the Fall of 1996 after two successful seasons at the University of New Mexico. In her final season as a Lobo, she gained national attention as the Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and made the conference All-Academic team.
Since graduating, Stutsman y Marquez coached a Junior Olympic volleyball team in Albuquerque and served as an assistant coach at Sandia High School. She also gained coaching experience as an instructor at summer volleyball programs at Dartmouth and the University of New Mexico.
"I have very high expectations but I'm also very patient and hopefully approachable," she said.
"We're totally ecstatic to have her back," Anne Murray '00 said of her former teammate returning to the squad. "She's played in so many different programs and she's seen so many other players that she will be able to apply her knowledge with us very easily."
While playing for the Big Green, Stutsman y Marquez was an inspirational leader, helping the team stay focused even in the most chaotic of situations.
"Volleyball is such a mental game and the season is so long that it's easy to get down on yourself. It's all about staying level-headed and focusing on a final goal, which is to win," Murray said. "It's easy to keep your mental peace when Maria's around."
The timing of her return to Dartmouth has special meaning as well. Stutsman y Marquez will return to coach as seniors the same players who joined the Big Green as freshmen in her first transfer season at Dartmouth.
"That's one of the reasons why I thought it was such a great opportunity. Those girls are some of my closest friends," she said. "They're who I first met at Dartmouth. We have a strong connection and it'll be a pleasure working with them."
Already situated in her Alumni Gym office, Stutsman y Marquez will be filling the void left by the planned departure of former assistant coach Madelyn Ripken.
In her first week on the job, she's been watching tape of recruits and getting up to speed on her new role on the team.
"I see myself here for two, maybe three years. After that I'm not exactly sure," she said. "I have graduate school in mind, but I'd love to continue my involvement with volleyball as much as I can. If that leads to a head coaching position, that would be super."