When I was asked what advice I would want to share with the next generation of volleyball players, the first thoughts that popped into my head were the typical ones: don’t lose the love of the game, remember that there is life after volleyball, all that good stuff. But when I sat down to write this and really did some thinking, I settled on something else.
Don’t be afraid to follow the opportunities that this wonderful game brings you.
Volleyball has taught (read: forced) me to constantly redefine my comfort zone. It is very easy to pass up on something because it terrifies you to step out of your safety bubble and try something new with the threat of failure or defeat looming over you. When I was a freshman in high school and playing on the freshman team, I was asked to move up to varsity for playoffs and boy, was I out of my element. I was a timid little aspen leaf of a person, in my first semester of high school and not very serious about volleyball. Why would I voluntarily put myself in a situation that would bring me stress and chip away at what little self-confidence I had?
I did it. I said yes. And never, not once, have I regretted making the decision to hurl myself into something unknown because of where it led me. I said yes to varsity, and then three years later I said yes to college volleyball. A year after that, I said yes to transfer to a better program. Three years after that, I said yes to put EVERYTHING that I had been working for in college on hold and move to Europe to play professionally.
Not a single one of these decisions was easy. They were accompanied by many tears, sleepless nights, and fear of missing out (FOMO). Fear of missing out on what you know your future holds if you stay on your current path. This sounds a little like reverse-FOMO, I know, but hear me out. Leaving college, you know that your next step is to get a job or continue on with higher education. For pretty much my whole life I’ve wanted to be a marine biologist, and my plan was to go to grad school for my Master’s degree after leaving OSU. When faced with the opportunity to play in Europe, the biggest thing holding me back was not getting to go to grad school any time in the foreseeable future. My Master’s degree was what I had been working my butt off for for the past eight years, and I was sitting there entertaining the idea of not continuing on in that direction. But then I realized what an amazing opportunity I was truly facing – I was going to get paid to play the sport that I love and live in Europe. And, as scary as it was to move an ocean and a continent away (very scary indeed), I decided to do it. And I am so glad that I did.
These examples might be a little extreme. I am unfathomably fortunate to have had volleyball bring me these opportunities, and they might be different from the opportunities that volleyball will bring you. That being said, volleyball will undoubtedly open doors for you, and although the other sides of those doors might be dark, scary, and unknown, do not be afraid to go after it. Anything that volleyball offers you, no matter how big or small, is a blessing, and I hope that you are brave enough to take on the tough decisions and be happy with what you choose. This sport has brought so many wonderful things into my life, and that is why I love it.
Amanda is continuing to live the dream playing for KP Brno in the Czech Republic, check in on her journey: