As Pomona-Pitzer’s libero, or defensive specialist, Heidi Leonard PO ’12 leads a defense that ranked fourth in the nation last year and promises to be the cornerstone of the Sagehens’ success this season. I recently got the chance to sit down with her and see what she had to say about this year’s team.
Leonard is from San Diego and started playing volleyball in eighth grade. Before then, she was involved in other athletic activities, including swimming and tennis. When it came time to choose a college, Leonard knew she wanted “someplace small” where she could play volleyball. Pomona fit the bill.
Since she emerged onto the scene as a first-year, Leonard has been a significant contributor to the volleyball team. On the court, her quickness allows her to get to would-be kills that another player might not reach. As a sophomore, she had 627 digs, eight short of the P-P single-season record. She followed that up with 548 digs last year to lead a defense that finished fourth in the nation in digs per set. She already has 208 digs this year, giving her a great chance of breaking the volleyball program’s career record. When told that she’ll probably break the record, she laughed and responded, “I’d better!”
Although Leonard is also a sprinter for P-P’s varsity track team, she gravitates toward volleyball because of its “fast pace… There’s always something happening.” In her large public high school, she “wasn’t that close” to the girls on her team, but here, Heidi deeply values the relationships she has formed with her fellow players. She describes her teammates as a “pretty close group” and enjoys playing alongside them.
Leonard is a chemistry major who plans to continue her education in graduate school. She describes balancing labs and practice as tiring at times, but ultimately rewarding. This season, she would like to see larger crowds at P-P home games. She considers momentum a huge part of volleyball, and the vocal presence of a large crowd “really helps” to keep the team’s energy high.
Heidi Leonard is one of the best volleyball players Pomona College has ever seen. She has high expectations for this year’s team, and looks forward to increased student support.