Volleyball `Quarterback' Etches Her Name Into ECU Record Books
Sept. 21, 2006
By Ronnie Woodward, ECU Media Relations Student Assistant
East Carolina's 6-foot-3, 220-pound quarterback James Pinkney and 5-foot-8 setter Heidi Krug are physical opposites, but the extraordinary leadership qualities that each of these Pirate seniors possess make them strikingly similar.
Krug recorded 45 assists against Charlotte earlier this season to break Lisa Donovan's ECU career record, but head volleyball coach Chris Rushing says it's her leadership that makes Krug one of the best volleyball players to ever put on the Pirate uniform.
"She basically runs the show out there; she's like a quarterback on a football team," Rushing said of Krug. "During timeouts she rallies the troops and the other players listen when she speaks."
Pinkney, who is quickly moving up the ECU career passing charts, is the unquestioned leader of this year's ECU football team.
"In order for us to be successful, he's got to be a vocal leader, and he's really taken that upon himself," head football coach Skip Holtz said at the Pirates' preseason media day.
Exactly half of the 2006 volleyball roster consists of freshmen, so Krug has embraced her role as a senior co-captain both vocally and by her actions on the court.
"I try to be vocal, I'm known as being one of the loudest on the court," Krug said. "I've tried to reach out to the freshmen this year, showing them the ropes right from the first day, saying this is what we do, this is how we do it and just leading by example."
Krug enjoyed an extremely successful junior season in 2005, setting an ECU single-season record with 1,510 assists. Krug, who was named third-team all-conference, finished the season ranked 12th in the nation with 13.36 assists per game.
Krug said her record-breaking junior season was fueled by Rushing and his staff.
"I didn't plan on breaking records; it all just sort of happened because of great coaching," Krug said. "It just shows how dedicated they are to making everyone better, because if they make me better it makes the team better as a whole."
Although Krug did some great things individually in 2005, she doesn't take full credit for the team's best season since 1982. The Pirates finished the season with a 20-11 record, the best mark since joining Conference USA, and recorded just their third 20-win season in the last 29 years.
"I don't think that me being 12th in the nation or setting those records directly correlated with our success as a team. Everyone was doing their part," Krug said. "We had a great team last year and it was just so exciting to have a 20-win season."
Krug is a star both on the volleyball court and in the classroom. A biology major, Krug has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her career at ECU. Krug has made the chancellor's list every semester while at ECU, won the 2005-06 Conference USA Scholar Athlete-of-the-Year Award and has received first-team academic all-district honors twice. Krug also said she has never received a "B" on a report card her whole life.
"I work hard but it's not like I'm one of those people that has their nose in the books all the time," the Kildeer, Ill., product said. "I think I have good time management and that's why I'm able to stay on top of things academically."
Donovan held the record from 2001-06, before Krug surpassed her this past weekend. Krug is expected to shatter the former record of 3,486 and had already bested it by 65 as play earlier this week.
Rushing said that he and Krug met recently and discussed many things, including her breaking the record.
"She knows the records there, she knows it's a huge accomplishment," Rushing said. "She also knows she can't get assists without her teammates making digs and kills. I can guarantee that if she had the choice to win a Conference USA championship or get a bunch of personal records, she would take the championship."
Even though Rushing has only been a part of the Pirate program for a little over a year now, he said it's going to be hard to see Krug leave after this season and the team will miss the outstanding competitiveness and leadership she brings to the table.
"She wants to be number one at everything; she's a 4.0 student, she's the best setter on the team and one of the best in the conference." Rushing said. "The best thing is we don't have to push her at all, her motivation comes from within. She's an extremely competitive and motivated individual."
The setter of a volleyball team has the responsibility of guiding the offense, similar to a quarterback of a football team.
"When people ask me what a setter is I always say I'm like a quarterback," Krug said. "I touch the ball 99.9 percent of the time and every single play it's my job to figure out how to score that point. I have to be focused at all times."
Rushing is looking to Krug and the other returning players to guide this year's young team.
"We lost some key seniors from last year's team and some of the returning players have changed roles," he said. "We accomplished great things last year and this year the players have set similar goals, the girls returning know that this year's team has the potential to be a be a very good team also."
Krug is currently in the process of applying to dental schools around the nation, hoping to be an orthodontist someday. Krug has not ruled out the possibility of helping with volleyball wherever she ends up next fall.
"I would love to keep volleyball in my life," Krug said. "All the schools I've applied to have volleyball programs so I would love to help their team if I can fit it into my schedule with dental school."
In the meantime Krug will continue to lead the Pirates on the volleyball court, just like Pinkney does on the football field.