In the winter of 2011, I proved to myself that I could receive a scholarship to play volleyball at the next level. For as long as I could remember, it was my dream, like many other players, to continue playing in college. I accepted a scholarship to Concordia University Nebraska (NE), an NAIA school after visiting the school and loving the atmosphere and the feeling it gave me.
In August of that year, pre-season training began. Saying I learned a lot about my self during that time would be an understatement. There was clearly much more independence because you are living away from your family, in my case approximately 1,400 miles away. And managing a college schedule with volleyball was different than anything I had experienced in high school. I made it through my first season but almost immediately I began to reevaluate whether I was where I wanted to be. My first realization was that I wanted to pursue civil engineering, this was a problem because Concordia NE did not offer this program. So... I would have to choose and while my volleyball career was important to me, in the long term, I wanted/needed to focus on my academics.
I will always be grateful for my experience at Concordia NE. Going to school across the country is no easy task and with the challenge I was forced to grow and mature a lot during that time. I was exposed to mid-western hospitality by many who had grown up nearby and welcomed me into their homes with open arms in acts of friendship which I greatly value.
The day I had to tell the coach I would not be returning for the next season was a very difficult one. I ultimately told him that I had decided to pursue my academic career in engineering and because the program was not offered here I had no choice but to transfer. I acknowledged that in just the one season I had spent with him as my coach I had changed as a player from the knowledge he was able to give me. As I left his office, I thought about how this was it. The career that I have spent years developing has come to this, and now it is gone. Now don't get me wrong, if I were given the option to make a different decision of what to do when I graduated high school, I would make the same choice. I was able to receive a scholarship to play collegiate volleyball and achieve my childhood goal.
To pursuit my degree in engineering, I decided to transfer to the University of Nevada Reno (UNR). Although I had just made this huge life changing decision to focus on my academics, I wasn't quite ready to give up volleyball. At UNR I found an opportunity to get involved with the club volleyball program and later was voted team president. In this role I had to create schedules, manage the collection and payment for league/tournament fees along with taking care of uniform packages. Because our team did not have a coach due to a school restrictions (uncommon in the college club volleyball world), I created lineups, practice plans, run tryouts, select players for the two teams, among many other tasks that typically fall onto a coach's shoulders. I found this very rewarding because it gave me a new perspective about what success means and what it takes to build something special that others are willing to buy into. Doing all the things a coach might do along with being able to play volleyball made me extremely grateful and gave me enough knowledge to begin my coaching career at a local high school and at a youth volleyball club.
Through this experience, I learned so much about myself. I could take a situation that seemed to be impossible and make the most of it. In my mind, college volleyball at Concordia University Nebraska meant that I would play on a team where I had the opportunity to get a scholarship. At the end of the day, I realized that I play volleyball because I love it and for that reason, I could continue my playing career for three more years. Playing on University of Nevada Reno's club team meant that I would still be able to play different colleges and universities and that I would still be part of a league where we had home and away games. In addition, I maintained my busy lifestyle without having to give up a summer internship, coaching a high school volleyball team, and coaching various youth club teams. If given the opportunity, I would make the same decisions all over again. I loved having the opportunity to play for a school where I received a scholarship, but I would also make the same choice to transfer home, play for a club team, and be a part of many other activities because I love the game of volleyball.