Sept. 10, 2013
By Justin Austin
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Family has always come first for Dorothy Rahal. She barely knew her father, but the Marshall volleyball player feels like he’s been with her for every match she’s played.
Her father died when Rahal was two. Now, she’s starting her senior season in coach Mitch Jacobs’ program.
“It has hit me more now that I’m a senior because most of my family will be here but that one special person will not be there watching me graduate in May,” said Rahal.
Daniel Rahal died of a heart attack in Cleveland in 1994, where Dorothy was born. He owned his own life insurance company and retired in his mid-30’s, so he could help his wife take care of young Dorothy.
“I remember my mom telling me stories of how hard my dad worked before I was born so he could take off and spend time with me after I was born,” Rahal said. “He was the true definition of a family man.”
Before every match, Rahal kneels down and says a prayer. She knows her father is listening to every word she says. Sometimes, she even gets to sit down and have a conversation with him.
“It’s really strange, but once every year since I was 16, I would have this reoccurring dream,” Rahal said. “Basically we are sitting down and he is giving me a pep talk. I am always really young in the dream, but he would talk to me just as any father would talk to their daughter.”
Rahal said she wakes up in shock after each dream. She went into how it was harder in high school after she had the dream, because she would see her mother up in the stands watching her at each match, but she knew something was missing.
For Rahal, college has been easier than high school, because she now has a new family to look to, the Herd family. Dorothy loves the sense of family that coach Mitch Jacobs has instilled at Marshall. She has really taken the leadership role to heart.
“Being a senior libero is definitely a responsibility I have learn to take through the years,” Rahal said. “I’m trying to lead more because of the number of freshmen we have on the team this year. I take my role more seriously, not necessary on me becoming a better player, because I know I’m going to push myself. But my main concern is leading and building towards a championship.”
The Herd’s defensive anchor already has painted her name throughout the MU record book and will be digging her way to the most digs in school history. She currently ranks second behind Maggie Arias, after collecting 525 digs in 2012. Arias tallied 1,758 digs in her four-year career (2004-07). The season mark for digs is 530, by Ashley Barnard in 2003.
“I want to be a mentor to these young girls this year, that way when I come back next year as an alumna, I can see that I was able to pass along things to them,” Rahal said. “My main job regardless of a championship is that I have impacted these girls. That way when they graduate, they can remember my name.”
Rahal will graduate in May along with fellow seniors Laura Der and Sacha Byous-McConnell. She will walk across the stage to receive a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and she has plans to become a teacher in Ohio and start a coaching career.
“I honestly think by me coaching when I was younger made me want to be a teacher, Rahal said. “I thought I did a good job at coaching through volleyball camps, so becoming a teacher made perfect sense. I get to pair both my loves with a profession. What more can I ask for?”