The Things I Have Learned...
by Whitney Schott
My college volleyball career has officially come to an end, and I have finally found time to reflect on my entire experience.
At the end of my senior year of high school I was chomping at the bit to start college volleyball. August finally came around and I traveled 12 hours to move myself to Nacogdoches, Texas so that I could attend Stephen F. Austin State University. I was definitely not in the Midwest anymore!! I spent my freshman and sophomore years playing volleyball at SFA. I quickly started comprehending why not everyone plays at the college level....you must be willing to put forth ten times more effort towards your sport than you ever have in your life, because Everyone is extremely talented. During my first two years of college, I devoted a lot of extra time in the gym so that I could continue to perfect my game, especially focusing on my defense - a part of the game I have always struggled with (although please show me a setter who loves to play defense!). I figured out pretty early that if I wanted to play, I had to truly earn it. Through a lot of hard work I earned a spot in the starting lineup - as a freshman, I ran a 6-2 with a senior setter and as a sophomore, I ran a 5-1. During my time at SFA, I learned more about the game of volleyball and training at the Division I level - a lot of which I owe to my SFA assistant coach (Coach B.). Getting through those first two years of college sports are the toughest because there is so much to learn, and the level of training is much more intense than in high school.
The second half of my college volleyball career was very different. Because it was tough being so far from home, I decided to transfer to UW-Green Bay. As I said earlier, college athletics are extremely difficult at times and I decided that if I was going to continue to play volleyball I wanted my support base of my family to be closer than Texas. I jumped into the Phoenix volleyball program just at the right time! The team was in dire need of a setter and I was in dire need of a team! I had to run a 5-1 with an entirely new team right away that first August. Thankfully, I was a junior with a lot of playing experience, so the adjustment was not too difficult. It also helped that many of my new teammates had played for the same high school club team as I had so there definitely was a comfort level. But I learned early on that once you are a junior there are no more excuses - you are an upperclassman and the coaches expect you to not only know what you are doing on the court, but to also lead others out there as well. My first season as a Phoenix finished with a 5-game loss to Milwaukee in the conference tournament. It was a tough way to end it, especially since Milwaukee went on to win the tournament, but we grew as a team a great deal that year and we built on that this season.
My final season swiftly crept up on me! My team and I had spent the past fall, spring, and even summer together and before I knew it my senior season was upon me! As a senior, you must be a leader. There is nothing to wait for. Especially in my situation where I was the only senior on the team. Seniors should always be aware of what is going on in the present and what is going to happen in the future -- there should be no surprises at this point in your career. However, seniority does not automatically mean playing time in college. You must earn every second you are on the court and your senior year is no different. I knew this going into my senior year and I worked harder than ever my last off-season to establish my role. Leadership is the number one lesson I learned this season, which is a quality that I can carry into multiple aspects of my life in the future. My senior year was unforgettable, and my team and I improved tremendously. I can only hope that my teammates will build upon the strong work ethic they have already developed, and continue to move forward and WIN!!
Whitney Schott's Top 10 "Things I Have Learned...":
- 1. Ice bags and ice baths! Take advantage of these two brilliant things during pre-season, because I guarantee common tasks such as walking, getting into bed, or even sitting down will be extremely painful during this time.
- 2. Sophomore year is by far the toughest year....just push yourself through it!
- 3. Get to know your teammates and build relationships with them off the court, because it will make it easier to talk to them in stressful/heated situations on the court.
- 4. As a freshman, come to terms with the fact that you are at the bottom of the totem pole....it's not the most fun place to be but Everyone has been there!
- 5. Don't yawn in the weight room....unless you really love to do push-ups :)
- 6. Always hit the floor for balls! ....unless you really love to run :)
- 7. Play just as hard in practice as you would in a real game -- seriously. That effort makes everyone in the gym that much better.
- 8. No matter what team you are on, game you are playing, or drill you are doing, make sure to always be competitive and confident. If you are these two things you will win.
- 9. Laugh and have fun when playing - especially after you make a dumb mistake! If you don't have fun when playing this game you shouldn't be playing it in the first place!
- 10. Work on your weaknesses until they are your strengths.