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8 TWU volleyball players recovering from hospitalization

Update – August 29 

Late Friday, Aug. 26, the seventh Pioneer volleyball player was released from a Denton hospital. The final student-athlete was released from her hometown hospital on Sunday, Aug. 28.

Also late on Aug. 26, the Athletics Department and volleyball team were notified of head volleyball coach Shelly Barberee’s decision to resign from her position.

In a university-wide email, Barberee stated she has been on a leave of absence since Aug. 12, and she was not present for the two-a-day workouts that led to the hospitalization of eight student-athletes. She noted her reason for resigning is to “address matters in my personal life and need to place my focus there.”

During her 13 years as head volleyball coach, Barberee accumulated 234 wins and made several NCAA tournament appearances with the Pioneers.

In another university-wide email on Saturday, Aug. 27, Director of Athletics Chalese Connors named assistant coach, Jessica Beener, as the interim head coach. Beener played for TWU from 2006-10 and went on to be the graduate assistant coach for two years before becoming the assistant coach in 2013.

The graduate assistant coach for the 2016 season is Hillary Shaffer, who is fresh off the court from the Pioneer’s 2015 season, where they made an appearance at the NCAA South Central Regional Tournament.

The Pioneers will kick off the 2016 season with the annual Hilton Garden Inn Classic in the Kitty Magee Arena. The first game is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 2 against Newman University at 1:30 p.m. The Pioneer volleyball team ended their first week of two-a-day workouts with eight players being hospitalized with a rare and serious condition, rhabdomyolysis.

The Pioneer volleyball team ended their first week of two-a-day workouts with eight players being hospitalized with a rare and serious condition, rhabdomyolysis.

Rhabdomyolysis, or rhabdo, is a condition where the skeletal muscle tissue breaks down and the myoglobin protein is released into the blood stream, which can ultimately lead to kidney failure.

Six of the eight student-athletes have been identified as First-year Jade Akins, Junior Briley Cole, First-year Bailey French, First-year Dylana Hutchins, First-year Erin Jones and First-year Katy Ranes. Two of the athletes have not been identified.

While in the hospital, all eight student-athletes were listed in fair condition, however two remain in the hospital, as of Friday, Aug. 26. The student-athletes will continue to be monitored through blood work, which will focus on their Creatine Kinase (CK) levels.

With the federal protection of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), no other information about the student-athletes has been released.

Texas Woman’s University began an internal investigation on Monday, Aug. 22, and is cooperating with an external investigation conducted by Denton County Health Department, as well.

Investigative reports may take up to 90 days to be completed, however in a press conference, Vice President of Student Life Dr. Monica Mendez-Grant stated: “Our initial belief is that overexertion, coupled with dehydration, during practices last week caused our student athletes to experience rhabdo.”

According to Director of Athletics Chalese Conners, the same exercises from last year were given this year, however the individual fitness testing was spread out over the course of the first week, rather than all testing being completed the first day of training.

Another difference in testing included the athletes completing a specified number of reps within a time frame, as opposed to having a specified time limit to complete as many reps as possible.

Conners stated: “We have added rhabdo to our annual student-athlete orientation sessions, as well as our staff professional development.”

The first week of two-a-day workouts were held on Aug. 15, 16, 18 and 19 and consisted of fitness testing, conditioning and a pool stretch in the morning, the NCAA mandated three hour recovery period, and then volleyball practice that could last up to three hours in the afternoon. On Thursday, Aug. 17 the Pioneers had a light scrimmage at NCTC.

The 2016 season is still on track to begin with the Hilton Garden Inn Classic tournament on Sept. 2 in the Kitty Magee Arena.

The Lasso will continue to update the story as it develops.

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