What the Game Means to Me- A Blog by FY MK Saladino

Volleyball has meant many different things to me over the years. When I first started my volleyball journey, it was just a fun sport I decided to play to get involved and make friends in high school. Little did I know, it would be a huge part of my life. I knew I loved the sport right away. My determination to get better and love for the sport grew rapidly. Volleyball started to mean so much more. It started to mean commitment, drive and determination. My teammates became my family and I developed a huge attachment to the sport. It became a part of who I am. I would think about volleyball all the time and strove to get better at what I loved to do. I would go to practice after school and then get home and continue to practice against my garage door until it got dark out. After school season ended I joined club and always hated leaving practice or tournaments because I just wanted to play all the time. It became my escape. Every time something would happen in my life that would make me upset I just wanted to play volleyball and be able to forget about my worries for the amount of time that I was on the court.

IMG_6870My high school team was the reason for my love of the game and it’s meaning to me. I never knew that a group of girls could cause so much joy in my life. My high school teammates became an extension of my family. I love each of them like sisters and could call up any one of their moms and talk to them as if they’re my own. They influenced the meaning of the game for me. Playing with them was my escape from everything else going on in my life. With them the game meant family and I played for them. I never thought I would find a team that I fit in with so well again. I didn’t think someone could be lucky enough to have two teams that every single person meant so much to them.

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This was until I started playing at SUNY Geneseo. I was pleasantly surprised when I became so close with my team here at Geneseo. It reminded me so much of my high school team and I love that about it.  It’s only been 7 months and I already have friendships that I know are going to last me a lifetime. Geneseo volleyball has influenced my life in such a positive way and shaped the meaning of the game for me. Today the game means grit, fight, and family. The game is a way for me to get away from everything else and just be fully invested in the moment on the court. Geneseo volleyball helps the meaning of the game develop into a stronger and deeper meaning to me. Now I play for my teammates who have taken me in and caused me to love the game of volleyball more than and more every day.

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My WHY ~

A good way for an athlete to find and fuel their fire within is to know their “WHY?”. What is your reason to play the game? Why do you do this all day every day? Once you find this why, you know what you want, why you want it and you are able to invest all of your time into being the player you want to be. When you have a clear and compelling WHY for your work, it becomes easy to adopt a “buy in” mentality. There are countless reasons as to why I play this amazing sport, but I’ll focus just on a few of them.

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#1 – Want to Prove People Wrong

When I was in high school, I was probably one of the shortest players on my travel team. A 5’9 outside hitter going up against 6’0 + blockers. So many coaches doubted the fact that I could thrive as a hitter due to my height. At first, I didn’t think that I would be able to play this position either because I was that much smaller than everyone else and college coaches weren’t going to recruit me as an outside hitter. But there was a turning point my junior year in high school where I took all of these doubts and “short” comments and turned them into a challenge. I let them fuel my fire. I wanted to show every coach and every parent and player watching that being shorter than everyone else had no effect on the way that I play with these bigger girls. My favorite quote is, “It’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, it’s about the size of the fight in the dog.” This became my inner mentality. I became hungry to prove people wrong. After not giving up the position that I came to love, I was recruited to be an outside hitter for the Geneseo Volleyball team. That was the most satisfying moment because a coach noticed the way I played despite being the shortest one on in the front row.

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#2 – The way the game makes me feel

The second reason as to why I play this sport is because of the way it makes me feel. There is no better feeling than turning around to your teammates, embracing them after a point, cheering, jumping up and down and hitting the floor. It’s like everything else in the world just completely stops for a few seconds, and I am taken over by that moment. That is my happiness. I wish I could live that moment every second of every day. The game also allows me to release stress and helps me forget about other problems or responsibilities I have in my life. Those two plus hours that I am in the gym practicing is like heaven to me. I get to do the thing I love with the people that I love and not have to think about anything else while I am in that gym.

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#3 – To play for the people who can’t or for the little girl watching from the sidelines

My third WHY means the most to me. There are so many people that do not get the opportunity to play this sport or any sport for that matter. I play for them. Without volleyball, I have no idea where I would be, so to see people who are incapable of doing things like this fuels my fire. Lastly, I play for the little girl in the stands that wants to grow up and play volleyball. Since I was 11, my little sister Mia was at every one of my games cheering me on from the stands. While playing, I wanted to illustrate to her that this game is life changing. I would love to look over at her smiling ear to ear after certain points. That only made we want to be a better player, knowing that someday she will be doing the same, celebrating similar victories. Now, she has big plans to play division 1 volleyball at Bryant University. Proud of you Mia 🙂 – I’ll always be playing for you and because of you.

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I would not be the player I am today without finding my “WHY”. These reasons are my constant reminder to not take a single moment of this game for granted because one day I won’t lace my shoes up and step on the court again. So now I’ll ask you blog readers, what is your why? Whether it be playing a certain sport or just doing everyday things, what fuels your fire within to do the things you love?

A Thank You Letter- A Blog By FY Morgan Michalski

Hello blog readers! I am first-year Morgan Michalski here to share some love for the people that mean so much to me. Parents, coaches, friends, and most importantly the 13 crazy people I call my teammates, thank you for making my first year at Geneseo one I will never forget! I cannot write a thank you letter without thanking the best teammates in the world! Thank you for all the support and always making my days better, you are my second family. Now I want to send a HUGE thank you to my fellow freshies, Maddie and MK. I don’t think I could have asked for better people to spend the next 4 years with. So I would like to say thank you so much for being the best teammates I could ever wish for. Thank you for…

Great advice- Maddie, you always are willing to help when things aren’t going too well and I know I can alway count on you when I need some advice.

Enthusiasm during games- Maddie, I’ve enjoyed witnessing you progress from a mute on the court (her words, not mine) to finding your voice and becoming a beast! MK, your enthusiasm throughout games is so motivating and gives off such good vibes. And I already can’t wait to do our dab handshake before games again (it was so cringy).

Perseverance- We all know being a student athlete is tough sometimes so I want to thank you guys for never giving up on yourselves or others. Even on the court you are always working ‘til you get it right and it is done. Thank you for pushing yourselves through workouts and practices, knowing that you guys are working hard makes me push myself that much harder.

Listening to me talk…all the time- Now if anyone had joined us on our lovely walks back to South Side after practice, they would know that I talk from the time we leave the locker room to the time we part ways to our rooms. And even then I will be shouting to them until they are in thier building. So thank you for learning to tune me out occasionally, because half the time it’s absolute nonsense.   

Jeep vibes- Thank you for the times we spent in Maddie’s jeep. From driving to frozen yogurt on Mondays to taking the doors and top off and going for drives where we let MK pick directions (we went in a big circle), it has been a blast! Something I cannot go on without mentioning is your safaris– they insisted on taking the most adventurous path to get to practice while talking in an Australian accent– It was a pleasure being your camera man and intern (truly an honor) for Safari-SO-Good. Also, our trip to Walmart for our Halloween costumes, which I personally think ours were the coolest (sorry Juniors). Thank you, Maddie and the Maddiewagon for creating so many memories we will never forget.

Being great friends- I am so thankful that volleyball has brought us together. We are all so different but still so similar which leads to great times together. Thank you, Maddie and MK, for being incredible people who are not afraid to be yourselves. Thank you for being the open-hearted people you are. Thank you for coming along this journey as a knight with me and enjoying every second we have together. These next few years will go by so fast and I can not wait to see what the future has in store for the three of us.

A Letter to Who Inspires Me- By SO Alex Frank

Ever since 7th grade, volleyball has been my life. I remember walking into my middle school gym with the 100+ other girls trying out, and just hoping I would be good enough to make our modified team. I never could have guessed how much this sport would change my life in the next eight years, with a special thanks to all the people I have met and the lessons they brought with them on and off the court. Over these eight years, it was the people who were the best teammates and the hardest workers that inspired me the most.

Kendall White-Penn State Libero

Before I get sappy, I have to shout Kendall White out because of how dang cool she is. If you ever watch a Penn State volleyball game, you’ll see a little 5’5 number 3 surrounded by humongous players who has enough spunk to fill the entire stadium by herself. Every5a2cccb3c2dcd.image.jpg game her passion and intensity radiates through the gym and motivates everyone around her, even fans like me watching at home. My absolute favorite thing about her is her reaction when her teammates score a point: screams, aggressively shakes them, jumps, whatever she can do to show how excited she is for her team. I love that. Absolutely fearless. She inspires me to be my teammates’ biggest fan and to let my love for this sport be uncontained.

My Dad

Here’s to one of the biggest team players I know. Hall of Famer in highschool and college, my dad held the record at Ithaca for the most assists for 27 years. His record has finally been broken, but his legacy and selflessness has carried on to every aspect of his life. Lucky me, he’s been my teammate for 19 years and has been dishing out assists since I can remember. He took me to the batting cages, played 1v1 with Maddy, peppered with me outside, and brought me to the beach courts whenever we could. My dad works his butt off doing anything he can to make sure we and the people around him succeed. He inspires me to be the most selfless and devoted teammate I can be. He inspires me to work hard everyday, never doubt what we can achieve, and find any opportunity I can to do what I love.

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The GSUVB Family

I couldn’t have written this without including the people that I have learned so much from for the past couple years. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such unique girls that all bring different views of life to this family. They have taught me how to be a better teammate, friend, and person. One of my favorite lessons my team has taught me is to IMG_9509.jpgtake it one day at a time and let things surprise me. They inspired me to stop planning and to just appreciate everything and everyone around me. They motivate me to pursue what I’m passionate about and never settle. I am so thankful to have the greatest friends and and a community I can truly call my family.

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