When I was in the fifth grade, my oldest sister Kerry was a freshman in high school and started playing volleyball. My parents took my other sister Kristianne and I to all of her games that we could go to, and the more I watched Kerry play, the more I wanted to play. When I was a freshman, I tried out and made the team, and all rest of high school was spent practicing and playing volleyball. I loved this sport more than any other, and for a long time I had dreams of playing in college. The summer before my senior year the head coach enforced two new rules: one, to be on the team you had to run two miles in under twenty minutes, and two, no senior could be on Junior Varsity. I knew very well that I could not run two miles in under twenty minutes easily, so I spent all summer training. Every morning I woke up at six and I ran two miles around my neighborhood that my mom and I had marked off, and she would time me. When it was time to run in front of the coaches, I ran it in 19:01! I was so proud of myself, and so excited when the coaches called me into their office. The head coach told me that I would not be playing on the Varsity team. I started crying incredibly hard, and when I finally composed myself I asked if this was the end of my volleyball career. The assistant coach, Coach Fields, told me no, that I was an exception to the head coach’s rule and I would be Captain of the Junior Varsity team. There were a lot of a new girls that year and they wanted me to lead them. Since I was a senior as well, they said that I would be allowed to travel, but I had to help our manager Andrew with statistics and other tasks, and while all of this news stung very badly, I accepted. I knew at this moment that the end of my volleyball career was closer than I had hoped.
My senior year on Junior Varsity was tumultuous. The majority of my team was girls who were relatively new to volleyball, and they all looked at me as the one senior who never made Varsity. Did I let that slow me down or stop me? Not a chance! I was taller than everyone on JV and I dominated the net constantly!
We lost only a couple of games, while conversely, Varsity only won a couple of games. I had to keep focusing on the bright side of things, which was exceptionally hard after I hurt my back during one practice. I’m not completely sure what I did to it, and doctors and physical therapists had several ideas, but nothing concrete. Essentially, my back muscles will contract violently if I sit a certain way, or stand for too long. After my last game, my mom handed me a letter from LMU, it was my acceptance letter and in one moment I realized I was over high school and ready to start new at LMU.
Fast forward a bit to my junior year of college, during a home basketball game there was a drawing going on in Tex Turner and my friend Dustin and I were looking at all the items. Nothing really caught my eye, until I saw a gift certificate to participate in a volleyball camp with LMU’s team. I bid on it and I won! I contacted Coach Jenny and was invited to come practice with the team. When I stepped on the court of Mary Mars Gymnasium I was incredibly nervous, I was rusty and I hated the thought of slowing down the team. Practice was grueling; I felt like I had been hit by a truck afterwards, but I loved every bit of it! It felt so good to be back on the court! All of a sudden it dawned on me how much I missed volleyball and I would give anything to be a part of a team again. I talked to Coach Jenny and told her how much I wanted to be apart of volleyball again, and asked if the team needed a manager. She emphatically accepted me as the manager!
Two weeks before the beginning of my senior year of college I came up to school to meet with her and the assistant coach to go over our responsibilities. The most common question I get about being the manager now is “what do you do?” My answer to this question is “I help” because that is exactly what my job description is to do. During practice I play the target, I help toss balls and other drills, I take statistics, and I run the clock/scoreboard. During games I help pass balls to the coaches during drills, I keep statistics, and I make sure the team has Gatorade, fruit and granola bars. I decorated a cork-board for the team, and every week I add a different “quote of the week”. All of those things I listed are my expected tasks, but believe me, there are many different unexpected tasks I have been assigned. Such tasks have been grocery shopping with mom’s of the players, building a fire in a charcoal grill, emergency Gatorade runs, cleaning debris off of the court in the middle of a game, taping solid lines on the court where the volleyball and basketball court guidelines cross, and so much more.
I did not feel like a part of the team instantly, it actually took a while until I truly felt comfortable with the team. During pre-season I felt incredibly awkward because I really did not know any of the girls and I had never been a manager before, and I did not want to let down Coach Jenny who had given me this chance. The assistant coach Lydia and I hit it off pretty quickly because we had to work together so much. At the end of the practice during the first week of school as I was leaving, one of the new girls called me over and asked me a bunch of questions about the Business School. I started to tell her about the teachers I’ve had and what their teaching styles are, and then all of the freshman players started asking me about different teachers that they were taking. I talked to them about the teachers I knew, and I could see that they looked a lot more at ease with what I was telling them. It was here that I realized that I must have seemed a bit distant to them, because I was a senior non-athlete in a sorority, and those circles don’t often intersect. After that I made it a point to talk to all of the girls, try to get to know them, tell them about myself, and I can honestly tell you that I love every member of the team. I could not ask for a more supportive group of girls and coaches.
Coach Jenny accepting me as the team manager was one of the best things to happen to me in my college career. I am busy all of the time with both my sorority and volleyball, but both sides can see how much I love the other. They each have helped me to be able to be a part of both. Being in a sisterhood is indescribably amazing, but being part of a team is a little different and fulfilling in other ways. I am incredibly blessed with the groups that have accepted me, and every day I am always thankful for that last volleyball game in high school when I opened my acceptance letter and began my amazing journey here.