All in the Family
June 26, 2007
By Greg Russell
Reprinted with permission...originally appeared in The University of Memphis Magazine.
You've heard the phrase, "Like father, like son," but at the University of Memphis, especially in the case of volleyball, "Like mother, like daughter" fits the bill even better.
When freshman Sarah Chambers took the court this past fall, she quietly made history, becoming a part of the first mother/daughter duo in Lady Tiger history. Her mom, Becky Harden Chambers, lettered for the volleyball team from 1977 to 1981.
"I always tease her that when we played way back then, there were dirt floors," said Becky. "Volleyball was a new sport at the University."
Sarah said her mother already has bragging rights on one claim to fame. "There is just one jersey that has been retired [in volleyball], and my mom was the setter for that player. She is always saying that her jersey wouldn't have been retired 'if not for me,'" Sarah said, with a smile. "I feel honored to follow in her footsteps," continued the freshman. "I hope to become half the woman she is."
Sarah's destiny might have been determined years ago. Her mother coached her at Munford High School and she attended a volleyball camp at Memphis as a sixth-grader. "I came to that camp, they invited me to some games and I loved the team atmosphere," Sarah said. "Coming here was fulfilling a dream."
In Sarah's first year as a member of the squad, the Lady Tigers finished 27-8. Coach Carrie Yerty's team fell short of an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by one game when it was upset by UAB in the C-USA championship match. Junior Shelby Burton and sophomore Laura Cote received All-America honors.
Becky, who now teaches at Millington, said that she and her husband, Joe, attend most games, home and away.
"It is different now that I don't coach her. I get to be the screaming mother in the stands," Becky said. "My husband is the greatest fan - I have to calm him down sometimes."
The "family affair" doesn't stop there. Sarah's brother, Sam, has been manager for the volleyball team for four seasons.
"I love having him around, he's such a great person," Sarah said. Becky said that she and her husband realize this is a special time in their life.
"The older they get, they pull further away," Becky said of Sarah and Sam. "We're enjoying the moment while we're together."