Despite long family legacy, Ali Drushal sets records, makes own name for herself

Ali Drushal ’09 has arguably set enough records to catch Guinness’s eye. The 2006 and 2007 North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Libero of the Year already has the set the school record for career digs and last year led all of NCAA Div. III in digs as well. However, for the senior volleyball standout, being an accomplished student athlete runs in the family.

Drushal is the younger sister of Wooster alum, Rick Drushal ’07, a four-year letterwinner in football. Not only was Ali’s brother a standout on the football field, but her grandfather, J. Garber Drushal, served as president of the College from 1967-77. Both of her parents, Rich and Josie, are also Wooster alums. When it came time to look at colleges, there was a significant amount of pressure from her parents to keep up the Black and Gold tradition.

“They’d like to tell me there wasn’t [pressure], but there was a little bit. Ultimately, it was my decision and I looked at other NCAC schools, Wittenberg and Denison,” said Ali.

She ultimately decided against waging a family civil war and attended the same school where her brother was already one of the football team’s most accomplished stars. By the end of his career, Rick was a four-year starter for the Scot football team at left tackle and set a school record by starting all 42 games in his career. During his first-year campaign, he was named to the all-conference second team and was subsequently named to the all-conference first team during his final three years on campus.

In his senior year, Rick was named an NCAA All-American. On top of all those accolades, Rick was also named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America First Team.

While it would seem inconceivable that any younger sibling could even live up to the same accomplishments set by the older brother, Ali has done just that. Last season, she set a school record with 2,309 digs for her career. With 301 more this season, she will set the conference record for career digs. Last year, she also led the NCAA Div. III in digs with 8.09 per game. Yet while Rick is breaking records as fast as Michael Phelps, she doesn’t pay much attention to them.

“I don’t really look at stats that much. I didn’t really know that I led the league until [they] told me. If you worry too much about stats, you’re going to worry about them more than just going out and playing every night,” she said.

Ali has been able to step up and make a name for herself despite the high bar set by her older brother. “I’ve always been the little sister. I wouldn’t say I’ve lived in his shadow. Since we play different sports, I’ve accomplished things in volleyball he’ll never accomplishment, and he’s accomplished things in football I’ll never accomplish,” said Rick.

While Rick graduated two years ago, every now and then Ali is still known as the younger sibling.

“It does get a little old being Rick Drushal’s little sister, but he’s been gone for two years so that doesn’t happen very much any more. If anything, it makes me work harder because I’ve seen his work ethic and what he’s accomplished,” she said.

While Ali already has more than enough accolades to fill her dorm room, she has set one goal this year, and that’s greater improvement as a team.

While Ali has gathered honors as if they were a stamp collection, the team’s record has hovered around .500 the past two years. While the team notched an overall record of 25-7 during Ali’s first year, the team has a combined record of 29-30 over the past two years.

“Ultimately, it’s the team success that matters,” said Ali. “We’re not six individuals on a court, we’re a team. No one person’s going to win or lose the game by themselves.”

While the team did lose two of its strong outside hitters in Carolyn Ciriegio ’08 and Erin Wright ’08, the team still is optimistic after winning 12 of its final 18 games last year. Behind second-year head coach Sarah Davis, the team could be ready to challenge conference titans Hiram College and Wittenberg University. If the team is able to make a run, Ali will likely be leading the charge.

After all, she knows a few things about high expectations.