I grew up in a sports crazed family. Soccer, swimming, tennis, baseball…our family has tried it all. But the holy grail was ice hockey. My first outing at a week old was to my brother's hockey game. My dad grew up playing, so then my brother and sister did too, and eventually my ex-figure skating mom picked it up. I learned to skate on our backyard rink and skating was as natural as walking. By age 5, I knew I would be a hockey player. I played on boys’ teams for 4 years and loved it. But as I grew, I looked for something new, perhaps a sport that my older brother hadn’t yet perfected, a sport for me.
At age 10, my soccer teammate introduced me to volleyball. Instantly, I fell in love with the game – the environment, the hustle and the sheer grit necessary to be a volleyball player. In 6th grade, I poured everything I had into volleyball and worked hard to turn my raw ability into great technique. Half way through that first season, my coach realized I wasn’t growing and switched me from middle blocker to libero. And boy was it different back there! But I knew it was the perfect spot for me because I have hustle and drive and cringe when a ball falls to the ground.
That first year, I learned about both the physical and mental aspects of being a libero. Late in the season, I got a concussion after chasing to save a ball. Thankfully, I healed in time for nationals, but that meant my first tournament back was the biggest one of the year. I struggled to stay positive as I felt my level of play wasn’t to where it should be. It was then my coach taught me what it truly means to be a libero. She explained that it’s not just passing and digging successfully, but being able to pick yourself up when you make a mistake and being able to move on to the next point with the same energy, communication and excitement as if you had just made a perfect pass. I’ve carried her words with me, and in with each new season, I have continued to grow as a defender and a leader on the court by keeping a positive mindset, cheering on my teammates and also by cheering on myself.