“It’s a great honor to have a player of Erin’s magnitude recognized by the SEC as a legend,” said current Alabama Volleyball Coach Ed Allen. “It not only represents and signifies how special of a player and person she was, but also represents her key role in building this program.”
Erin Heffner Ventress, a native of Fort Wayne, Ind., helped lay the foundation for one of the most successful eras in Alabama volleyball history. A letterwinner from 2001-04, she helped lead the team to an SEC Western Division title in her senior season. Ventress was Alabama’s first ever two-time All-American, earning honorable mention honors in 2003 and 2004. She still holds school records for career kills (2,090) and attacks (4,785).
“Alabama Volleyball probably made its greatest strides during my time when Erin Heffner was playing for the Crimson Tide,” said former head coach Judy Green. “It was an incredible opportunity for me to coach Erin because she was the ultimate competitor. She embraced the highest level of challenges and opportunities and always did that with a considerable amount of confidence and class. I can’t think of a more deserving student-athlete to earn this honor than Erin. The way she lived her life was the same way she approached the game of volleyball: first class”
After graduating from Alabama in 2004, she earned her master’s degree from the University of Montevallo, where she served as an assistant volleyball coach from 2007-09. Starting in 2010, she became a physical education teacher at Berry Middle School in Hoover and coached the volleyball and girls basketball teams. She coached the 2011-12 seventh-grade girls basketball team to a 19-1 record and a Metro South Conference Championship, a first at Berry Middle School.
“The Heffner and Ventress families gratefully acknowledge the selection of Erin as Alabama’s SEC Legend,” said her parents, Bob and Cathy, and husband, Tom, in a statement. “For Erin to be included among such extraordinary athletes, she would truly be humbled. To quote a true Alabama Legend, ‘Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.’ To us, Erin was the model of a player with class, pride and character. We thank the SEC for this tremendous honor.”
After succumbing to her battle with cancer at the age of 30 in February of 2014, the family requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations should be made to The V Foundation for Cancer Research in her name.
Each legend will be celebrated individually on each Sunday and Thursday between Jan. 11 and Feb. 26 online at www.secsports.com. The entire class will be honored at the 2015 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament in Little Rock, Ark., from March 4-8, with each legend to be honored during half time of their team’s first game of the tournament.