What the Game Means to Me- A blog by FY Erina Nanavati

A lot of us have been playing this sport for so long, that we have never really taken a step back and looked at how much of an impact it’s had on our lives.  This game has been a part of me since I was in seventh grade, and now I’m playing collegiately, so let me enlighten you on why I’ve stuck around this sport for 7 years 🙂

Number 1! If you play a sport in the same school or club program for long enough, you’re bound to make some pretty good friends, spending that much time together, it’s a little hard not to. This is one of the best things that I have gotten out of volleyball, and one of the reasons I love it so much. Since seventh grade, I have played on a combined 12 teams. That’s 12 teams worth of team dinners, blasting music in busses/hotels, walking around random cities together and everything in between. I have way more memories than I can count for every single one of those teams, probably because no matter who was on it or what our seasons were like, every team I have ever played on has become its own little family. Volleyball is a sport that requires trust, and I have found that the only way a team can really trust each other on the court, is if they can connect and trust each other off of it too. Volleyball has given me those relationships with so many people that have only affected my life positively.

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Number 2! If you know me, you would know that I am not always the most outspoken person. When I was younger, that shyness was WAY worse than it is now (if you can believe it), so when I started playing volleyball it was a little bit of a shock. Volleyball is a very talkative sport, it’s something we strive to get better at almost every day at practice now, because it’s just that important. Well, at the very beginning of my volleyball career, being loud and demanding while playing was not my strongest quality. As I moved up to JV and Varsity and had more and more leadership roles, I quickly learned that for my teams to be as successful as I wanted them to be, I needed to step up and be able to lead them confidently. It didn’t take me long into my freshmen season to have a much bigger presence on the court, which made my presence off the court change in the same way. The leadership that I had taken on in volleyball carried over into my day to day life, making me much more confident all around. If it hadn’t been for volleyball, I might still be the extremely reserved person I used to be. I really do think that this part of the game has played one of the biggest roles in my life because it has helped me become someone who is so much more secure and confident.

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Number 3! I have played volleyball for almost 10 months out of the year for a very long time, and I used to think that it sucked. I was in high school!! I wanted to be able to hang out with my friends on the weekends, go to football and basketball games, but I was rarely able to because almost every weekend for a big chunk of the year, I was in random cities playing in volleyball tournaments. I won’t lie, I loved going to tournaments and hanging out with my teams, but I always wondered what I would do if I had the free time most non-club volleyball playing teenagers had. Looking back on it now, if I did have that free time, my life would have been an absolute mess.  I would have never gotten any work done because there would have been no structure, no outside force besides my parents to push me, and no drive within my self to want to constantly be better in school and in volleyball.  Playing so much allowed me to get out of my comfort zone in so many ways to really learn how to strive to be the absolute best that I can be all of the time, instead of just for a couple months of the year.

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My “why”

Every athlete has a reason of why he or she plays the game. Every athlete has a reason of why they carry themselves the way they do. Every athlete has certain things that they keep in the back of their minds that are their constant reminder to push themselves to be the absolute best they can be. That “why” for me is 100%, without a doubt, my family.

They are my motivators, supporters, and everything in between. They are the reason that I am the athlete I am today and they are the reason why I constantly push myself to be the best I can be.

Throughout my entire athletic career, my family has been my rock. When I am struggling they are the first people I turn to, and when I succeed, they are the first people I want to tell. My mom, dad, and brother have been my constant supply of unconditional support and love throughout the entire course of my life, and for that I will always be grateful.

HTSY8918All three of them have taught me very important life lessons, which have undoubtedly had an Impact on how I play the game of volleyball and how I carry myself as an athlete.

Here are just a few of these lessons that I would like to share with you all.

Number 1: Never take anything too seriously and always remember to have fun.

No matter how much the game means you to or how much pressure you may put on yourself, it is so important to enjoy the time you have with your team and to have fun. The joy the game brings you and how happy you are when you play is the reason you fell in love with it, right?

Number 2: Stay humble, you will gain the respect of so many people if you do so.

Humble athletes are the best athletes. Never let successes go to your head and always remember that the game is temporary, but the reputation you obtain as a person can have a lasting impact on your life.

Number 3: Failure is a part of life. Learn from your failures and turn them into your motivators.

No one wants to lose, trust me I hate it more than anything. But, I have come to  know that you learn so much more from your failures than you do your successes, and it is your failures that make you a stronger, more persistent athlete. Take these negative experiences and flip them to mean something that can positively influence your game.

Number 4:  Appreciate and value every single opportunity you are given, no matter how small they may be.

It is truly a blessing to be a student athlete and to be able to play the game you love at the collegiate level. The opportunities you are given are ones that you should never take for granted. I guarantee that any athlete knows that you would not be where you are today without the support and guidance from family, friends, coaches, and trainers, so never forget to tell these people how much they mean to you.

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These lessons, along with many more, have made me into the player I am today. I come into the gym everyday knowing how blessed I am to be there and how important it is for me to never take that for granted. I know how important it is to be respectful and that I should never let my actions reflect otherwise. I also never forget to have fun and smile, whether it is during a lift, practice, game, or tournament.

I would not be where I am today without my family guiding me in the right direction and showing me the ropes. So, Mom, Dad, and Jack, thank you for all that you do and continue to do for me. You are and always will be my “why”.IMG_0493

Why Geneseo? A blog by FY Kiersten Colvin

“Why Geneseo?” This is a question I have been asked a billion times by family, friends, teachers, coworkers, and even strangers. I have been asked this before I committed, after I committed, and even after completing my first semester. I usually reply along the lines of: “The campus is pretty, the academics are great, it is affordable”… quite boring I know. Although I did create countless pro-and-con lists comparing schools, deciding to go to attend Geneseo was not a completely practical decision.

Geneseo met most of my requirements for a school. I envisioned myself on a beautiful campus, in a rigorous academic program, with a medium student population, while playing volleyball in seventy-degree weather. Deciding to attend Geneseo meant that I had to give up my warmth, and more importantly playing volleyball. When I was told I wouldn’t be a “good fit” for Geneseo volleyball I was devastated to say the least. I thought I had found the perfect school for me, ignoring the weather of course. It was back to square one sending mass emails to coaches and schools I was barely interested in.

I am not going to lie, it was not a fun time feeling like I had nowhere to go. Every day I came home from school I would research colleges, refresh my emails, call coaches and make my wish at 11:11 that this would all end well. I began to start to accept the fact that I would never find a school with my top priorities: volleyball and good academics. I vividly remember myself in my room, with my black out curtains down, groaning in front of my laptop. I hate that I even got to that point.

One day my mom came in my depressing room and attempted to lift me up. She said to me, “You can’t let other people decide your fate, you decide what you want to do and make it happen”. Of course, like any typical teenager, I ignored my mom and thought she was crazy. I thought, “I am not going to freeze in the tundra AND not play volleyball”. (This is in quotations because these are the exact words I said to my friends and family). On the other hand, my mom was fully convinced I could walk on the team. So once I was accepted into Geneseo, she pushed me to go on the overnight visit provided by the school.

My personal reason for giving into my mother’s hopefulness and visiting Geneseo was to see if I could attend the school without playing volleyball. I figured out that day that I could. I loved the people I met and walked around campus as if it was already my second home. Although I’d be upset if I couldn’t play, it was still an amazing school and I could see myself there. So on March 27th 2017, I decided to commit to The State University of New York at Geneseo. On that same day I decided that I would do almost anything to make the volleyball team. I spent my summer working out every morning, constantly reminding myself what I was working towards: playing volleyball, the game I love.

Although everything did work out the way I wanted, I wish I could tell past myself, lying in my garage, with a mix of tears and sweat on my face, listening to “Rise Up” by Andra Day (or by the little girl from America’s Got Talent… I’ll put the link below def worth a listen), that I need to stop being so emotional and dramatic and that I was working towards so much more than simply playing volleyball. Geneseo Volleyball is not just a team. It is a family.

I must be the luckiest person in the world because the girls on the team are some of the best people I have met. Everyone is so funny, talented, honest, and weird (the good kind obviously… at least that’s what we tell ourselves). They are a huge reason as to why I love Geneseo so much and could not picture myself at any other place. I am beyond happy that I chose to sacrifice sleeping-in over the summer and to invest in a good winter jacket. For those that know me, that was not easy. However, those slight discrepancies do not compare to the friends and memories that I have already made in less than a year. I cannot wait to see how the rest of my Geneseo experience unfolds; I know it will be unforgettable.

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Link to song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TddQEzW9MQM

A Thank You Letter

Dear Mom and Dad,

Thank you for all of your love and support for the past 9 years of my volleyball career. You two are the ones that have always been by my side at every high school game and tournament. I can always count on you both to be on the sidelines at every game cheering me on. Thank you for all the time, money, and energy you put towards the one thing I love so much. Without either of you, there is no way I would be where I am today, playing collegiate volleyball at SUNY Geneseo.

Not only did you guys support me through my high school and club career, you both were there for me when I wasn’t playing volleyball for my first year of college. I was so upset that first year because not playing the sport I have played for half of my life was extremely difficult for me. I missed it so much and you both were there to support me in whatever decision I made. When I finally realized playing this sport was something that I needed, you both were supportive in my decision to try out for the Geneseo Volleyball Team. Your faith in my ability to make the team was a major reason why I decided to go for it. Without all of your support and love throughout my whole first year of college I don’t know if I would have had the courage to tryout for a very skilled team that has already bonded with one another. The decision to try out for the Geneseo Volleyball Team was by far the best decision of my life, and without either of you, making that decision would have been much harder for me.

Thank you so much Mom and Dad for everything you do for me, inside and outside of volleyball. You both are amazing parents and have supported me no matter what, and I cannot thank you enough for that. I want you both to know I never take you for granted, and a lot of my success in life has been because of the both of you. Thank you for everything, and I love you both so much!

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My Senior Night