Oct. 15, 2009

Courtesy of Mike Boseak and Scott Rex
Central Michigan University

MOUNT PLEASANT - Nearly two decades have passed since Terri Phillion-Dulude and Denise Breslin-Gotham first took the court as Central Michigan volleyball teammates. This fall, they returned to Rose Center to watch as their daughters literally follow in their footsteps.

Lindsey Dulude, daughter of Terri, and Danielle Gotham, daughter of Denise, joined the Chippewa volleyball program as freshmen this season. They compete for the same school and in the same arena while playing the same positions—outside hitter and middle blocker, respectively—as their mothers.

Terri is one of the most accomplished volleyball players in CMU history. The first female athlete to be awarded a scholarship to CMU, she was a three-time All-Mid-American Conference first team selection (1979-82) and inducted into the CMU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001. Denise transferred to CMU for her final two seasons and was an All-MAC first team honoree as a senior in 1982.

“We played against each other when I was here and Denise was at Wayne State,” Terri said. “When I heard she was transferring here, I knew it was a good thing.”

Terri and Denise first met as teammates during their junior season in 1981. They were roommates as seniors, participated in one another’s weddings shortly after college and became mothers two months apart. Despite settling in different areas of the state (daughters Lindsey and Danielle attended Midland High School and South Lyon High School, respectively) their families frequently returned to campus together for football games, volleyball matches and other events throughout the daughters’ childhoods.

“They grew up as Chippewas,” Terri said. “They have heard so many stories over the years, and I think knowing what they have in front of them excites them.”

“I never even really considered another school,” Lindsey said. “There was no reason to waste time thinking about it when I knew a long time ago what I wanted and had a chance to accomplish that.”

The decision was not quite as easy for Danielle, who initially committed to Northwestern University before ultimately deciding to attend CMU. “There was always a part of me that wanted to go to CMU,” she said.

For Terri and Denise, having their daughters wearing the Maroon and Gold is nothing short of a dream come true.

“We always hoped this would be a possibility and thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be cool if it happened,’” Terri said, “but now it’s a sense of, ‘Wow, this is really happening.’ We were so lucky to have an experience that was so special, and now we feel like we get to do it all over again. This is a huge gift for us.”

Denise calls it, “an honor, a thrill and exciting” knowing that the daughters will share many of the experiences of their mothers before them. “I’m not sure the girls realize the amount of memories they will create and experiences they will have here, and that the friendships they make will last a lifetime,” she said.

Terri and Denise helped lead the volleyball program through some of its most successful seasons, including back-to-back Michigan Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) championships in 1979 and 1980 and a school-record 54 victories in 1981. Only a MAC championship eluded the duo, a fact not lost on their daughters.

“I think if we were able to win a MAC title, it would be even more special because it's a chance for us to be the first,” Danielle said.

The journey toward the 2009 conference championship began Sept. 25 when the Chippewas visited Eastern Michigan. CMU hosted conference rival Ball State one week later in the home opener, the first time Lindsey and Danielle officially competed for CMU in Rose Arena.

Terri and Denise returned to the arena that night, and although they weren’t in the middle of the action on the court, they were both easy to find. They were in their seats before either team even came out for warmups.