Marshall volleyball builds team by working on cooking skills


Sydney Shelton

The Marshall volleyball team poses for a photo with chef Marty Emerson at Huntington’s Kitchen April 5, 2019. The team participated in an Iron Chef competition as a means of team-building.

Chicken and veggies with a side of teamwork is what the Marshall volleyball team cooked Friday at Huntington’s Kitchen.

The volleyball team participated in its own version of Iron Chef. The team was split into smaller groups, where they were given chicken, fruits and vegetables. Each team had to come up with a dish that could be presented to the judges. Through learning to peel potatoes for the first time and having a fire in the kitchen, the women were able to present five different dishes.

Marshall head volleyball coach Ari Aganus got the idea from a previous school she coached at. Aganus said the idea was to learn how to prep and cook food in a healthy way considering the players will be on their own a lot this summer.

Aganus said she also wanted to use it as a competitive way to bring the girls together off of the court. She said she wants to change the culture around Marshall volleyball and one way to do that is to bring together women who do not know how to cook with the ones that do, in efforts to meet in the middle and get a good product at the end.

“Hopefully we can allude back to things when there is tough moment,” Aganus said. “We can talk about how they set the entire place on fire. It is not going to change everything, it is just going to add in that we want to know them and grow them as more than volleyball players.”

The players were judged on presentation, taste and nutritional value.

The nutritional aspect of the competition was key because the coaches and staff said they want their athletes to know how to eat properly to fuel their bodies.

Marshall University Assistant Professor and Distance Dietetic Internship Coordinator, Tim Bender was there to assess the players as they cooked and give them advice on how to make their dishes more healthful.

“As much effort as they are putting in their sports and training, they need to put that same focus and efforts into nutrition,” Bender said.

Five dishes made it to the table before the judges but there could only be one winner.

Although they started the evening by starting a fire, freshmen Autumn Elswick and Joelle “JoJo” Coulter and junior Ivana Trencheva ended the night with a win.

“I definitely got out of this better cooking skills, better communication skills and leadership skills,” Elswick said. “My team had a fire, but we came back because we came together.”

Marshall volleyball will play its first group games under new head coach Aganus in its spring season. The spring season will begin at the Cam Henderson Center against West Virginia State on April 12 at 6:30 p.m.

Sydney Shelton can be contacted at [email protected]