Vissers blends height and talent for Mt. Hebron

April 02, 1995|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Sun Staff Writer

Dani Vissers wishes she could blend into the crowd once in a while.

At 6 feet and coming off a 73-goal, 34-assist lacrosse season, that is not likely for Mount Hebron's honorable-mention All American.

"Sometimes, you just want to mesh in and be able to sneak around and I can't," said Vissers, a second-team All-Metro pick. "I hear people talking at games -- 'You can't leave her alone' or 'Get the big girl.' I'm definitely identified beforehand and I'm kind of easy to pick out. I don't get lost in a crowd."

Her height gets her noticed. What she does with it has gotten her a scholarship to play next year at William & Mary, currently the 12th-ranked team in the nation.

Vissers, who has helped the Vikings to three straight state titles, can be an imposing figure especially for a defender trying to stop her one-on-one. With good speed and a great hand switch, Vissers will get a shot off almost every time.

"She's great running real hard at a kid," said Vikings coach P.J. Kesmodel. "If she can get the ball up top and run at somebody, there's no way one kid can handle her. She's so big, she can just shoot over top of them or run right through them practically."

Despite her occasional desire to blend in, Vissers admits that she would never trade the edge she enjoys from being at least a few inches taller than her opponents.

"I don't know what I would do if I was shorter, because I've relied on it so long," said Vissers, also a second-team All-Metro volleyball player. "It really is a big advantage. I have more reach for passes and we can manipulate that a lot. I'm like the center in basketball and they try to loop it in to me."

William & Mary coach Feffie Barnhill likes tall players and already has two 5-10 starters on her attack. Still, it takes more than height to earn playing time as a freshman and Barnhill expects Vissers to step right in.

"She's a very creative offensive player besides her ability to shoot and score," said Barnhill. "She's like a point guard in basketball. She sees the whole field and she makes good decisions. That's the difference at this level between starters and players and those who don't have it."

At Mount Hebron, Vissers has worked hard to excel in a program that has lost only two games in the past three years. In the past year alone, she played in two summer leagues, a fall league and a winter box league as well as attending two summer camps and coaching a middle school summer-league team.

Last fall, she added a weight training class at school, and can bench press 150 pounds. The added strength, Kesmodel said, has made her even more explosive one-on-one.

But improving her skills and strength doesn't do much to alleviate the pressure of being the top returning scorer for the area's No. 1 team. She has two other talented veterans, Erin McGinnis and Lynette Chastant, with her on attack, but Vissers draws the most defensive attention.

"It is a lot of pressure because people expect a lot," said Vissers. "Sometimes, I take it upon myself to try to do everything. I've been playing longer than a lot of the younger kids. I feel like I have to help them out and they expect me to help them out. Then I wear myself out and I'm not there for when they really do need me."

In scrimmages and the first game, Vissers struggled because she tried to do too much. Tuesday, however, she broke out of her slump with four goals and an assist in a 10-4 win over No. 9 Bryn Mawr.

Kesmodel has seen this struggle with the pressure before.

"Some of it is just coming into your senior year," said Kesmodel. "There's a lot of pressure and expectation to have this wonderful year. Part of my job is to rein her in and not have her try to do too much, have her play within herself and let the game come to her."

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