A day in the life of volleyball’s Johannah Bangert

Johannah Bangert is happy. Happy to be the starting middle blocker for the Illinois volleyball team. Happy to be the national leader in blocks last season. Happy to be a good student at the state’s flagship university. And happy to be at offseason volleyball practice, even if she did roll out of bed for it at …

5:55 a.m.

Bangert presses the snooze button just once Friday morning before waking up for volleyball practice.

6:20 a.m.

She grabs a Carnation Instant Breakfast, because “that’s all I can stomach this early in the morning,” she says before heading out the door with her roommates and teammates— Laura DeBruler and Hillary Haen.

7:00 a.m.

It’s a Friday, meaning the Illini are allowed one-on-one time with the coaches. Bangert works on her spikes with assistant coach Kent Miller, and she’s smiling the entire time.

Then, Bangert rushes over to watch what she just did on film.

“She’s really into that, stopping it and rewinding it and playing it over and over,” Haen says. Haen then proceeds to make fun of Bangert and gets into a heated debate over what the difference a completely straight arm makes in a hit.

However, there’s one thing on film that Bangert makes sure to pause, point out and look at: Miller almost denying her a high five when they finish practicing.

“At least he came through in the end,” Bangert says. “It’s very important.”

Next, the players get into groups of three, do a few drills and rotate to play one-on-one— Bangert’s favorite part because it the most fast-paced.

After that comes the most grueling part of Fridays— weight training. She goes through different weight stations and then ends with her least favorite, floor exercises. She’s one of the last to finish but is the most enthusiastic, as she models herself after one of her favorite TV Shows, “The Biggest Loser.”

“When you finish, you make a lot of noise and then you just fall down,” Bangert says. “It’s fun to play like ‘The Biggest Loser’ here.”

She makes so much noise yelling that when the trainer comes down she said, “Jo, everyone can hear you all the way upstairs!”

10:00 a.m.

Practice is finally over, and Bangert finds Michelle Bartsch so they can have their favorite after-practice snack — pickles and chocolate milk.

“It’s the best after-practice combination,” Bangert says. “It helps replace everything that you lost.”

Now it’s time for class. Bangert hurries to take a shower and decides to do her hair because, “It’s Friday!”

Leaving the gym, the women are surprised to see that there is a snowstorm outside.

“That’s what happens when you’re stuck in another world for four hours,” Bartsch says.

Bangert is more upset that she did her hair for no reason and that she is wearing boots that seem to act more as slippers. This proves true when she slips halfway to class, falling flat on her butt.

“I’m not even embarrassed, it just hurts!” Bangert exclaims.

She says that this just made her hate the snow more. A Missouri native, Bangert’s not a fan of Illinois weather. Her current game plan is to become a math teacher and volleyball coach in Texas. The location always changes, but she definitely wants to go somewhere warm, where there’s less risk— or no risk at all— of slipping on the ice.

Luckily, no one she knows sees her, although she does see at least five people she knows on the way to class and everywhere else in the day.

11:00 a.m.

Bangert makes it to her first class in Altgeld Hall, a minute after the bell rings, not sneaking in very subtly because there’s only 10 kids in the class — MATH 403, Euclidean Geometry. Learning about the Theorem of Ceva, it seems as though Bangert is the only member of the class. She answers nine different times, while the rest of the class answers four times all together.

“I feel bad, (the teacher’s) just waiting for an answer and someone has to participate,” Bangert says later.


She takes a break for lunch at the Union, where she treats herself to a chicken caesar wrap at McAllister’s Deli because she didn’t have time to pack a lunch.

1:00 p.m.

Bangert returns to Altgeld for her second and final class of the day — Math 461, Probability Theory, a class she takes with many of her friends. She struggles to stay awake, but once it’s over she’s happy because it’s finally the weekend and time to relax.

1:50 p.m.

Relaxing doesn’t mean just sitting around for Bangert, though. She trudges across campus to her apartment and runs in to change her clothes, then leaves again to pick up teammate Rachel Feldman so they can go see the movie “Avatar,” which they have been trying to see for weeks.

2:55 p.m.

Bangert runs into three people she knows who work at the movie theater, while Feldman just looks on.

“It’s like this everywhere, she knows everyone,” Feldman says.

“I’ve been around this town for three years, that’s a long time!” Bangert says in her own defense.

She’s excited to get her 3-D glasses and have not one, but two containers of popcorn — a must at the movies. Feldman falls asleep pretty early in the film, but Bangert is enthralled by the story and stays awake the entire time.

“It was a really good movie, definitely worth all the hype,” Bangert says.

6:00 p.m. — After the movie, the Bangert and Co. head back on campus to meet their freshman teammates, who are going to swipe them into dinner at the Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Hall.

The teammates wear their glasses the entire time eating because, “it’s a lot more fun living this in 3-D,” Bangert says.

After eating, they return to Bangert’s car, which she calls Agatha because its a Volkswagon and “an old car needs an old name.”

“One time, I had to take her to the shop, so when I picked her up I bought her flowers,” Bangert says. “I even left the flowers in the car for a while after that.”

7:00 p.m.

Agatha delivers the teammates safely to the wrestling meet. The team is required to attend so they can compare how wrestling and volleyball are similar.

“I think the big similarity is that the focus is always winning,” Bangert says. “No matter what you say, everybody in every sport still wants to win.”

And although it doesn’t end up being a win for the Illini, Bangert still cheers the loudest for every athlete. Once the meet ends at around 9:30, Bangert contemplates going out on the town with her teammates, but she just can’t stay awake.

10:00 p.m.

Bangert goes home and almost immediately falls asleep, as she needs to wake up early in the morning to try out curling with her church.

“Always room for something new and fun,” Bangert says.

Fifteen hours of non-stop action. And it’s only the offseason.