There’s already so much going on in college, so why volleyball?
- Playing a sport in college entails a lot of sacrifice
- It also brings a lot of benefits—scholarship, facilities, friends, support
- What are the best motivations?
If you’re reading this post, then I imagine that you’re interested in playing volleyball in college. If you’re at all like I was as a teenager, then you’re obsessed with the idea! I was one of those teens who was a little tentative about dreaming—my biggest fear was getting close to my goals, but coming up short. However, by the time I turned fifteen years old, I was reasonably certain that I could become good enough to play at some college somewhere and that was all I could think about for years!
If that describes you at all, then I have a question for you: have you thought about why you might want to play in college?
Having attended three different universities myself, I can tell you that when you get to college, you’ll be presented with the widest array of choices you’ve faced in your life up until that time. You’ll be deciding where you’ll live, what classes you’ll take, and what extra activities you’ll get involved with. You’ll be figuring out how to get around a new city, how to live with roommates, and how to balance your budget. Speaking of balance, you’ll be trying to find the intricate balance between school, friends, work, and sleep (side note: not many people really find that balance…ever). So do you really want to add volleyball on top of all of that? Why?
Playing volleyball in college poses some unique challenges that most other students won’t face:
- Travel schedules vary by conference, but the common factor is that you will be traveling much more during the school year than the average student. Expect to miss class frequently. Expect to do a lot of makeup work.
- Because you’re missing class and sometimes tests, your relationship with your professors needs to be exceptional. This translates to you making the effort to have a relationship with your professors and communicating about when you’re missing class and how you can make up the work.
- Your practice and match schedule will run the rest of your life. Your classes and social activities have to fit around your commitments to the team—don’t expect to be able to take a biology lab on Thursday nights if you have matches every Thursday. Don’t expect to be able to go home for every family event, even if they live nearby. If something doesn’t fit your team’s schedule, then you don’t do it.
- Responsibility. College won’t just be about you and your experience, it will be about your team and the commitments you’ve made. This can have a big impact on your social life (aka, you can’t go to every party or campus event you may want to).
- Teammates are simultaneously a blessing and a challenge. It’s likely that your freshman year you will live with teammates, attend classes with teammates, travel with teammates, eat with teammates, and of course practice and compete with teammates. Even when you really like each other, you’ll find that some of the most difficult conversations you’ll have had up to this point in your life will be working through problems and conflicts with your teammates.
- Commitment. I know it’s already mentioned in the list, but I can’t stress commitment enough. You won’t have the freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want and be able to justify your choices by saying that the consequences only affect yourself. Everything you do, for better or for worse, will have an impact on your team—that includes choices about schoolwork, health, family, friends, and even dating.
- Balance. It’s just incredibly hard to keep all of the plates spinning.
Have I talked you out of it? I hope not! There are also a lot of great reasons to play volleyball in college:
- The opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself—while being on a team requires a lot of commitment, the more you put into it, the more passionate you’ll become about your team and what you accomplish together.
- The opportunity to play the sport you love and take your game to the next level.
- Friendships that will last a lifetime. You, your teammates, and your coaches will go through heaven and hell together and you’ll build relationships that will form your character forever. If there’s anything that you will really take with you after you’ve graduated, it will be these relationships.
- Memories that will last a lifetime. There will be highs and lows throughout your college career and it will be a time that you will never forget.
- Academic support to get you through the season. College athletes have access to academic advisors, tutors, and studying facilities that will help you to make up for all of the times you’ll miss class.
- Coaching staff. If you’ve found a coach and a program that are a good fit for you, chances are that your coaches will become your mentors and guides through some of the difficult decisions and experiences of young adulthood.
- All-around support to keep you going. College athletics is tough, but between your teammates, coaching staff, academic advisors, athletic trainers, team doctors, and other athletic department staff, you will have a large, well-organized support network that you can lean on when you need to.
- Access to athletic facilities may seem a little obvious, but it often gets overlooked by potential college athletes. You’ll have free access to gyms, training rooms and staff, private locker rooms, and showers on campus—other students may have to pay for this, if it’s available to them at all.
- Financial support. A college volleyball scholarship is a great way to pay for school.
I purposely place financial support at the end of the list. An athletic scholarship can change your life—it can open up opportunities you never thought you’d have. A full-ride athletic scholarship will cover your college expenses more comprehensively than any other scholarship available. But, it just can’t be your primary motivation. If you’re only in it for the money, you won’t last. There are easier ways to pay for college and scholarships that are easier to maintain.
If your motives are placed somewhere in the realm of wanting to be a part of something great, wanting to give more than you receive, and wanting to approach your potential as a player and as a person, then it’s likely that your motivation for playing in college will carry you through the entire experience.
So… what do you really want?