The OU volleyball team is seven matches deep into the conference season and today's feature, on junior-transfer Keri Coats, is the ninth installment of the At The Net column. Check back for features on junior Stephanie Tengram and senior Kelly McCarter in the coming weeks.
Big Mammy' is the affectionate nickname for OU volleyball attacker Keri Coats, whose efficiency and size are key factors in OU's success every time the Sooners step on the court.
From the first day Coats picked up a volleyball at OU, her teammates have been impressed, if not awe struck at times. Her 6-4 frame has made her one of the most intimidating players of the (OU head coach) Kalani Mahi era and her ideal volleyball height led to the nickname that everyone around the program has adopted. Her impressive build spawned Big Mammy', which she is referred to by the staff, players and even Coach Mahi's three old daughter, Teya.
"I was demonstrating blocking techniques during summer camp and Yvette (Villanueva) called me a mammoth," said Coats. "In the movie Ice Age they called the mammoth Manny' and since I'm a female it became Mammy'. I guess I'm the team's big mammoth that blocks everything."
The Twin Falls native has loved the move to Norman after spending two years at the College of Southern Idaho. The OU squad has greatly revered Coats' presence more because of her stabilizing effect on the team than her stature.
"I really don't think of things like how much my play has helped the rest of the team," said Coats. "I just know that at my position I am the benefactor of a lot great passes and sets by my teammates."
Coats fit in quickly and is the only player on the team to log time in every game of every match this season. The consistent Coats has registered seven or more kills in 12 of 19 matches this season, including a career-high of 15 against Baylor. Coats has reached double-digits in kills four times, a mark she only reached once while at Southern Idaho.
The change from being a role player to a key figure on a major college volleyball program has been a dream come true.
"I really love competition and pushing myself to be the best player I can be," said Coats. "I don't want to just be along for the ride. I love to be in the middle of things and I want to leave this team knowing I was one of the players that helped turn the program into a powerhouse."
Coats was always confident that attending OU would be one of the best choices of her life. The improved play of her teammates and herself has reinforced to Coats that she made the right transfer.
"The Sooners were the only choice for me from day one," stated Coats. "I was sold on the school before I ever came down. I love the big school atmosphere and that every team at OU competes at the highest level."
The only thing that Coats does miss about home would be the potatoes. Idaho is renowned for being the spud state and Coats misses all the various ways she could eat them. The Sooner volleyball team's diet only allows baked and mashed potatoes. with a little gravy on the side.
"I love potatoes," exclaimed Coats. "I miss french fries a lot. The team is not allowed to eat french fries or hash browns. Both were staples back home."
It seems that according to Coats people south of Salt Lake City are missing out on the joys of another personal favorite, fry sauce.
"It's a delicious mix of ketchup and mayo and it seems nobody around here has ever heard of it," said Coats.
Potatoes aside, Oklahoma has been everything Coats has wanted. All that remains for Coats is to help the Sooners get back on the winning track.
"In conference play we've had a lot of adversity and teams are gunning for us because they've heard how improved we are," said Coats. "So far, we have yet to scratch the level of play we expect to be at. If we stick together and continue to work as team, we'll bring the best out of each other."