Before starting high school (shout out to Omaha Central), I didn’t think much about my post-secondary plans. However, the turning point came when I attended Central’s volleyball camp in the summer and later at try-outs. I didn’t think I was good enough to make the JV or varsity team. I learned that some of my teammates have been playing since elementary school, so my hopes weren’t that high. To my surprise, I made the JV team as a freshman and I became very passionate about the sport. My thirteen-year-old self couldn’t have fathom all of the opportunities that would come with it. From freshmen year until I graduated high school, I made volleyball my number one priority and had ONE goal to play on the Division I level. I dreamed of playing for Nebraska, Wisconsin, UCLA, and Texas.
Advice from Dad
My dad played a huge role in getting me to the next level. After every volleyball practice and game, he would pick me up and then launch into an hour-long discussion/lecture about my future and the value of a college education. He pushed me to take honors and AP classes, because coaches can develop your skills, but they can’t teach you how to be a good student.
Glimpse into the future
During my sophomore year, my volleyball team was invited to go down to the Quest Center (many names ago), currently CHI Health Center, and not only did we attend the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Tournament, but we also decorated Washington State’s locker room before their game against UCLA. That was the first time I saw a DI volleyball game in action and I’m pretty sure my entire mouth was on the floor. The matches were so intense and I loved every minute of it. My goal of playing in college was solidified and no one would tell me differently.
Change of plans
In my senior year of high school, I learned a tough, but appreciated lesson: the plans you might have for yourself might change and you have to remain determined and steadfast to reach your goals. First, I should point out that throughout my volleyball career, I’ve always been a 5’9 middle block. Why do I mention my height? I’m glad you asked, because traditionally that position requires players to be at least 6’0 or higher. Therefore, I wasn’t seriously recruited as a senior, and not one DI scout reached out to me. Of course, I was crushed and contemplated not playing in college and instead would attend UNL with my friends. In March, during my club season, I was approached by Terry Carlson, head coach of Indian Hills Community College, soon to be one of my favorite coaches. A teammate and I went on a campus visit and traveled to small town Ottumwa, Iowa. After the visit, I committed the following month, and participated in National Signing Day with my family and coaches. I never envisioned playing at a JUCO, but the universe had other plans for me.
In my first year at Hills, I learned a lot about myself as a player and it only took one year of preseason to do so. Pre-season is an opportunity to grow as an athlete, sharpen your skills, and become acclimated with the culture of the team. Overall, it was one of the most humbling experiences I’ve gone through – aside from adulting, lol. And, it was the only time in my life where I ate, slept, and breathed volleyball for two weeks. My muscles ached, I lost toenails, and I gained lifelong friendships. I loved preseason and would do it all over again.
While I was at Hills, I worked my butt off to become a starter, and thankfully I started every year. I knew as a freshman in high school, someone is always gunning for your spot, and whenever I walked on the court, I was never intimidated by another team, and if they had girls who were 6’0 or higher, I welcomed the challenge. A mindset that would help me throughout my volleyball career.
Off to the South!
My sophomore year at Hills felt like my senior year of high school all over again. I had to get ready for the next chapter and that meant reaching out to coaches with my bio and volleyball stats. I had one-on-one training sessions with my coach, who helped me gain the skills set to become a left-side hitter; because once again my height would pose as an issue when I transferred to the next level and it would make it easier for me to be recruited. It was a little difficult because the unknown is scary and who’s to say I would make the right decision. But, Hills proved to be the best decision I made as a player and ultimately for my education. I earned my Associates Degree and even though I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to study at my next school, I knew I wanted to help people and I kept that at the forefront when I later chose my major.
Dreams can come true!
In the spring, I received an email from the assistant coach of Charleston Southern University to come down for an official visit. Now, I did have to research where it was located and long story short…I accepted the offer to play at Charleston Southern as a middle blocker. Did I mention that it is a DI school!! My very first tournament was the Duke Invitational, where we played against Duke University, Furman University, and Wisconsin University (one of my dream schools). For me, in that very moment, everything came full circle. I never let go of that dream that I had freshmen year in high school and I learned that what every obstacle is thrown at you, always remain true to yourself and stick to the plan.