It’s funny to think about this now, but my love for volleyball kind of happened by chance.
When I was younger, I attended a performing arts school and was passionate about music and drama.
Sports certainly had a place in my life, too, but I was really just experimenting, if you will.
My sister, however, was another story.
She was an excellent volleyball player, and I would spend countless hours in the gym at her games, just watching and cheering her on.
And one day, one of her coaches simply invited me to join the team.
Crazy how this simple action changed the entire course of my childhood.
My focus shifted entirely.
I couldn’t get enough volleyball in my life.
I had unexpectedly discovered a love for this sport and by the age of eleven, I joined a club team and began traveling to games and tournaments all over the region.
I was all-in and had no intentions of slowing down.
Well, at least until injuries struck.
All through high school and club ball, I found myself battling nagging injuries, always having to play through pain.
No matter how hard it was to push through, though, I always did.
My love for the game and the high expectations that I set for myself drove me forward each and every day.
It all proved worthwhile, too, when I accepted a scholarship to play DI volleyball here for Memphis.
I was ready to leave the injuries in the past and start anew with this amazing opportunity before me.
Little did I know, however, that my time combating injuries was far from over.
It was only the second day of preseason practice in my freshman year.
I had just arrived on campus to begin my collegiate career and was beyond excited to prove myself as a student-athlete here at Memphis.
It was a routine drill of hitting lines, and after completing my swing, I landed on my left leg, just like I had done thousands of times before.
This landing, however, felt different.
The impact stopped me in my tracks, and I knew something was very, very wrong.
MRIs and further evaluation confirmed one of my worst fears.
There was a stress fracture in my left shin.
I was devastated.
I had worked my entire life for this opportunity. And now, an unfortunate landing threw me a massive curveball — pretty much on day one of this new adventure.
As I had always done, though, I tried to remain positive and immediately shift my focus to returning to the court as quickly as possible.
Initially, I had opted for just some time off to let my body heal itself, but months into that rest period, things were still not improving.
I knew deep down that if I wanted to compete for the Tigers in the future, I needed this injury to be fully healed.
I made the difficult decision to have surgery, which officially put an end to my first season here.
While I gave myself some time to mourn the loss of the freshman goals I had set for myself, I knew this was the only way forward and came to accept that it was just another setback in what promises to be an incredible journey.
I immediately shifted my focus to the recovery process.
A different role
While those ensuing days of rehabilitation were extremely long, grueling, and tested my patience, I did all that I could to remain an integral part of the team.
From a young age, I’ve always had a strong volleyball IQ and understood the strategic components of the game.
As I sat on the sidelines and watched my teammates compete in home matches, I would do my best to offer support, guidance, and an outside perspective of game trends that I was seeing from afar.
While it was not the role that I envisioned for myself as a freshman, it was the role that this journey provided to me, and I was determined to still show up for my teammates, coaches, and this university.
After all, they were a big part of the reason why I chose Memphis in the first place.
I absolutely love this community.
The diversity, the culture, and the incredible people who surround our program instantly felt like home.
The coaching staff is down to earth and truly cares about the players they serve.
Not just as athletes, but as human beings as well.
Despite the unfortunate start to my time here in Memphis, I know that there are better days ahead.
I look forward to the opportunity to rejoin the team as a sophomore and am going to do so with the same determined mindset that has powered me through every obstacle along this journey.
I’m undeterred by the hardships that accompany being an athlete and will always continue to push forward the only way that I know how.
Through hard work and incredibly high expectations.
The rest will take care of itself.
Just a few short weeks ago, I was fully cleared to return to volleyball activities. I am overjoyed to continue to play the game that I love and excited about doing so with a clean bill of health.
While I have spent the entirety of the 2022 season on the sidelines, it has offered me the chance to build solid relationships with my teammates and coaches, and I absolutely cannot wait to compete alongside each and every one of them in the days ahead.
They have all displayed a tremendous amount of love and support throughout my recovery process, and I owe it to them — and myself — to show up and show out this fall.
Let’s do this!