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Tara Beilsmith Breaks OVC All-Time Digs Record
In the world of college volleyball, there are few records more coveted and prestigious than being crowned the all-time leader in digs in your conference..
On Oct. 14, 2023, SEMO Libero Tara Beilsmith etched her name into the records of OVC history, becoming the conference's all-time career leader in digs.
In a match against Tennessee State, the 5-feet, 7-inch graduate student from Weldon Spring, Missouri, needed just 21 digs to surpass the previous record held by Gina Rivera-Ortiz (Tennessee State University), which stood at 2,662 career digs.
As she scooped her 21st dig, her teammates’ roar of cheers came about celebrating Beilsmith as she made conference history.
Beilsmith has been a mainstay on the Southeast Missouri volleyball team since her freshman year in 2019.
Fresh out of high school at St. Joseph's Academy, Beilsmith joined the Redhawks with a tough spirit.
Beilsmith said, “It was a goal of mine coming in as a freshman (breaking the record) and I think that it is probably the biggest accomplishment that I’ve made since I’ve been here.”
She led the team in digs her freshman year, earning her a spot on the Second Team All-OVC and solidifying her status as a future cornerstone of the Redhawks' defense.
"She earned that Libero jersey really fast. She's never been a contender, since she earned that spot," SEMO head coach Julie Yankus said.
Beilsmith's emergence as the leader of the team's defense was swift, and her passion for the game was evident from the beginning.
As the years passed, Beilsmith honed her skills, focusing on improving her serve-receive, an aspect of her game she once struggled with, according to both herself and Yankus.
“She is definitely the example of a hard worker, for sure. She is somebody that still comes in for extra reps,” Coach Yankus said.
Talia Gouard, a fellow grad student and freshman year roommate noticed from the beginning that Beilsmith was a special player with a work ethic that set her apart. .
"I knew from the moment that I met her that she was going to break records here. Our very first practice, I was like, she's really good, she's hard-working, and she always strives to be the best,” Gouard said.
Beilsmith said a key to her drive is to go hard every day, “I don’t really take days off. I think you should never really be complacent with how you’re playing and that’s been a big motivational factor for me.”
In a physically demanding position as a libero, Beilsmith took proactive steps to maintain her physical well-being.
Beilsmith noted that frequent visits to the training staff and consistent strength training enabled her to play through injuries and maintain peak performance.
Her split-second reactions and sheer determination have been crucial to her success. Beilsmith shared, "I am notorious for not thinking anything during plays. 'See ball, get ball' is my mentality."
While her on-court performance is remarkable, Beilsmith's impact transcends statistics. She leads by example and is quick to uplift her teammates emotionally.
Gouard praised her leadership, saying, "She's so supportive. She's always the go-to person if you need help with volleyball, personal life, anything."
As the Southeast Missouri State volleyball team's leader in digs, Beilsmith reached the peak of her career. In the 2022 season, she recorded an astounding 773 digs, a feat that secured her position as the OVC Defensive Player of the Year.
In five remarkable years, Tara Beilsmith evolved from a freshman with immense potential into a record-breaking libero who led her team to championships and left an indelible mark on the SEMO volleyball program.
“I’m so proud of her. I mean, it’s all her hard work and it’s so amazing to have a player with her storied career. I’m so proud to be her coach, and the fact that we got her to come in here five years ago, after having tons of other options, and the fact that she’s stayed here and been a proud Redhawk through that really is amazing.” Yankus said, “It’s been very much an honor to be her coach.”