Like a lot of you, growing up, my dream was always to be a volleyball player. With my mother being a coach, I practically grew up in a gym. I just knew that when I was old enough I would be a setter, and I would strive every day to be the next Misty May. Approaching High School, I played varsity as a freshman and was quickly thrown into a level of play that I was not used to. After rising to the occasion, I realized just how fun competitive volleyball was. After my freshman year, my dream of playing volleyball at the next level was still on my mind, and I knew that it was time to get serious about the game. My mom and I even threw around the idea of moving to the Denver area in order for me to play year round, for that was not an option in Sheridan when I was in High School. Everytime the conversation about moving would get serious, I would back out; I did not, under any circumstances, want to be the “new girl” at a big school in Denver, and I questioned if I was even good enough to play with those girls.
My Junior year of High School, I was a part of a state championship volleyball team. Ending the season on the best note possible, I began getting my highlight tapes ready. I cut film, my coach and teammates assisted in making new film, and I started scoping out schools that I may want to play at. After a busy school year full of indoor/outdoor track and a busy summer, I entered into my senior season. After a devastating season, I thought that playing at the next level wasn’t for me. Quite honestly, following that season, I thought I never wanted to touch a volleyball ever again. A single three month season completely changed my eighteen year dream, or so I thought. At the time, my older sister, Taylor, was running track at The University of Wyoming, and was entering into her final season. I saw the dedication she had to track, and I wasn’t sure that I could give a volleyball team that same dedication that she gave to her track team. I decided that I was going to forget my film and even ignored calls from multiple coaches; I didn’t even give them the time of day nor did I return their text, voicemails, or emails. At this point in my life, my sights were on medical school, and I thought that this was not attainable if I played sports too. I justified my decision by saying “I want to focus on my schooling. I want to get through in four years.” I packed up, moved to Laramie, and started in on my journey to college.
I was confident on my decision to not play volleyball for about a year; the end of my senior season to the first volleyball game I attended at the University of Wyoming. That night, Wyoming was playing Black Hills - consequently two of the schools that I was going to send film to. I cried through the entire first set before I decided to finally leave the game and go back to my dorm room. Why was I so emotional and so upset? I had made the wrong decision, and I finally knew it. All I could think was “why?” Why didn’t I answer those calls from coaches? Why didn’t I send out my film? Why didn’t I take the chance and at least look into some schools? Why did I think that life was so short that I couldn’t even potentially spend an extra year in school in order to play the sport I loved for four more years?
Honestly, I am not one that regrets a whole lot. I have always prided myself on the fact that I can find a positive learning experience in situations that a lot of people would find a regret in. I am extremely happy that I got an education at the University of Wyoming, and I was able to get this education in three years; a year shorter than most people do. However, what do I have to show for it now? I am still entering Physical Therapy School with the rest of the people that I entered college with, and I could have gotten the same degree from just about any college. The way I look at it now is I would be in this exact same position that I am in now had I played volleyball, but the difference would have been that I could have played the sport I loved with a team that would have later become family for two to four more years. I would have made relationships along the way and I would have been able to look back on my life thus far and say “I have zero regrets”.
Education is always there, and you’re always just a flight away from home. Looking back, I would have never made the same decision. I would have answered each one of those emails and phone calls. I would have finalized my film and sent it to schools with hopes that maybe something would work out that I could play for a few more years. Life is always there, volleyball is not. I cannot imagine how different my life would be if I would have played a few extra years.
If you’re questioning playing at the next level at all, at least look into it. Talk to coaches, return calls and emails, talk to friends and family, and send your film. You can always decide you don’t want to play, but there comes a time where it’s too late to go back on your word. It’s much easier to say “never mind, I decided I don’t want to play” than it is to say “shoot, I should have at least tried”. Inquire about junior colleges and four year institutes alike. Sometimes it’s not about where you play, it’s about being in a culture that is good for you and your personality. And remember, no decision is a death sentence. If after your freshman season you decide that volleyball is something that you can flip the page on, you can still walk away at that point. I know that I still get upset about my decision to not play, however, I will be “more okay” with it as more girls learn from my story and decide to at least try to play or look into playing at the college level. As my dad always tells my sister and I: “Regret it because you did it; Don’t regret it because you didn’t do it”.