Tales From the Sports Source: Brittany Magsig/Volleyball
By Seth J. Walker
Brittany (Holbrook) Magsig would seem like the stuff of legend. When you look at her, a six-foot-one blond athlete, she looks like she could be cast as Captain Marvel in the Marvel movie set to be released next year; or better yet, Supergirl, if there ever was to be a reboot of that film. Then if you were to see any of the workouts she posts on Facebook, you would be amazed at her ability to get through workouts that most guys would probably struggle with. Her effort, and her ability to excel at these intense workouts can be described as superhuman.
“Genetically, I’m a tall and strong individual,” Magsig said. “I think apart what makes me strong is my work ethic and when I’m bought into something, I get dedicated – and extremely motivated when I see improvement and growth in my own life.”
On top of that, just like any superhero, Brittany has a “day job,” for when she’s being a “regular person,” as a social worker for the Webberville School District. Even in that role, however, she wears many hats as her duties include but aren’t limited to writing behavioral plans or functional behavior assessments, assisting in crises, and managing the LINKS program, where general education students help special education students.
When Magsig isn’t working out or performing her duties as a social worker, she’s involved in volleyball, whether it’s as a player or coach. However, it wasn’t always that way. Brittany considered herself primarily a basketball player until her junior year at John Glenn High School in Westland, Michigan. Despite initially only playing volleyball to keep in shape for basketball season, Magsig’s high school volleyball coach convinced her to try out for AAU volleyball, playing for Camila Olaio, then an assistant coach for the Eastern Michigan volleyball team.
“I realized volleyball would be in my future when my club volleyball coach would contact Division I coaches to come to practice and watch me play,” Magsig said. “A lot of my friends though volleyball were already committed/talking to college coaches. At times, I felt really behind, but in the end, it all worked out perfectly getting that full ride scholarship offer at Oakland.”
Magsig took a chance on a then struggling Oakland University volleyball program that head coach Rob Beam was rebuilding. Prior to her arrival, the Golden Grizzlies never had a winning season since moving to Division I in 1998. When Brittany arrived in 2009, she helped Oakland secure its first winning season in the Division I era. In fact, the Golden Grizzlies haven’t had a losing season since and even won the Horizon League Tournament in 2014, earning an NCAA Tournament berth.
Her favorite moment was from her sophomore season when the Golden Grizzlies upset the top team in the Summit League, North Dakota State, a team they never beat before, in front of an unusually large crowd for an Oakland volleyball game, as the match was part of Grizz Madness, with a pep rally for the men’s and women’s basketball teams afterwards.
“That night was so special to me because it was one of the few times our entire athletic and entire surrounding area communities could see our volleyball team play, and play against and BEAT the number one team in the conference,” Magsig said. “I specifically remember our whole team played with confidence, and to play in front of at least 1,000 fans… incredible. To hear the Oakland Athletic department behind us, cheering on every kill, or taunting the servers for the other team with their wit and humor, something you can’t ever forget.”
Magsig had high praise for the entire coaching staff at Oakland. She learned from Beam that “the details matter,” as she has since become an expert planner in her own coaching career. Brittany credited assistant coach Eric Lindstrom for developing her middle hitting and blocking skills; describing him as “loyal, dedicated, and worked his tail off.” Magsig described assistant coach Kelly Price as “the sister or mom we had away from home, and the fiery coach when it was needed.”
After graduating from Oakland, Magsig headed down to Wayne State for the graduate program in Social Work, while becoming a graduate assistant for the women’s volleyball team there. When combining travel time, team workouts, practice, her internship in Detroit Public Schools, making team plans for with the head coach, and night classes, her days lasted from 5:30 am to 9pm.
“This schedule, among the many things I learned at Wayne State, helped how to run a volleyball team, and not just the volleyball part,”Magsig said. “The marketing aspect, budget, travel plans, and fundraising are a huge part in keeping intact a solid program.”
After finishing up her graduate degree at Michigan State, and serving as director of volleyball operations for the team there, Magsig began working in Webberville, about a half-hour drive east from East Lansing; where she now lives with her husband Ben, a former Eastern Michigan University baseball player who now works in real estate as a broker with Elite Home Selling in Lansing.
A year after beginning her social working career in Webberville, Magsig became the head coach for the Webberville High school varsity girls volleyball team. She elevated a program that has now won two straight conference championships.
“I feel I brought a freshness to the court for the girls, and I believe I brought new expectations at a higher level for them, being one of the only coaches at Webberville to play a Division I sport and coach at the college level,” Magsig said.
Coaching hasn’t stopped Magsig from maintaining her own prowess as a volleyball player, transitioning into beach volleyball. Since 2016, Magsig has competed at tournaments in Kansas City, Chicago, New York City, and Fort Wayne among other places.
“Volleyball has brought me to so many amazing places,” Magsig said. “The people I’ve met along the way will be my friends for life. It’s very common to see the same people at the Midwest tournaments. You grow bonds, and it’s not uncommon for them to be your partner or your competition within a week! Because we’re all friends, we’ll take turns playing with different people. It makes it less about the pressure and winning….even though that’s amazing…but the friendships and relationships.”
Even if Magsig never gets cast for that part as a super heroine, she has a lot to fall back on; as she will begin her third season as Webberville’s head coach this fall. This concludes the first of what should be several Tales from the Sports Source. You heard it from me, Seth Walker.