Senior Letter Series – Grace Cergol

Welp. I’m a senior. It’s happening. Kat, Sam and Abby – we are old…yikes. It all hit me like a ton of bricks the first day of preseason this past August. I only have three more months to competitively play the sport I fell in love with 11 years ago. That is absolutely wild. This entire experience has been absolutely wild.

I am overcome with emotions trying to write this senior blog and quite honestly have no idea where to start. But I guess I’ll start with every person who had shaped my athletic career in some capacity: Tricia, Courtney, Emma, Dani, Luca, Kaci, Madison, Emily, Bainski, Abbey Scheff, Shea, Kendyll, A May, Kat, Sam, Kiersten, Gabby, Erina, Moose, Mary, Allison, Bridget, Alex, MK, Morgan, Maddie, Babs, Imbo, Jackie, Haber, Grace, the entire athletic department, the trainers, Coach Dunn, Coach Kenz, Coach EO and Coach Hunter – these are the people who have positively impacted my life forever and I cannot thank them enough for it. My experience at Geneseo wouldn’t have been even close to the same without each and every one of you.

The biggest thank you I have to give is to my family, Mom, Dad and Mia. Mom and Dad thank you for putting Geneseo on my radar and for convincing me to visit this school. Without your incite and recommendations, I would never have even thought to go to college 7 hours away from home, where it is absolutely freezing and the only thing you can see for miles is grass :). For real though, Geneseo is a pretty cool place (no sarcasm there lol). Mia, thank you for supporting any decision I made along the way and being my biggest cheerleader – it’s time for me to be yours.

Now I would just like to name a few pivotal moments that defined each season since 2016:

Freshman Year 2016-2017 – With a 5-4 SUNYAC record, our team went on to play in the quarter-finals in the conference playoffs for the first time since 2006. We were matched up against Fredonia, who had previously beat us that season, in their home gym. We ended up sweeping the Blue Devils 3 sets to 0 and moving on to the semi-finals to play Brockport where we put up an incredible fight.

Sophomore Year 2017-2018 – Being a young team, with no seniors and only one junior, we had our doubts. Little did we know, we would go on to achieve one of the most successful seasons that the program has seen in the past five years, including beating a top 25 team. After losing in the semi-finals to Fredonia, we were definitely hungry for more.

Junior Year 2018-2019 – Coming back with the same team as before, with the addition of three talented freshmen, we wanted to change history for Geneseo Volleyball – and we did just that. We went on to being the first team in program history to achieve a 9-0 conference record and host the SUNYAC tournament IN OUR OWN HOUSE BABY. We rose to the occasion and beat the team, who had swept us the year prior, in 3 sets to 0 to move on to the conference finals. No one could’ve predicted what was to happen that final game. Nerves were high, expectations were set and the ligaments in my knee sure did not want to cooperate that day. Leaving the gym with a loss and uncertainty about if I could even return for my final season, made me more determined than ever. This injury pushed me to work my hardest when I was at my worst. The motivation to play again helped me get through some of the toughest obstacles and here I am 8 months later despite a predicted 12-18-month recovery.

Senior Year 2019-2020 – Hey, I’m no psychic but I think I can sense a new banner being hung in our gym ;).

Lastly, the amount of valuable lessons I’ve learned through athletics, academics and my relationships here at Geneseo are limitless. The most important one that I’ll share with you readers is to be vulnerable and open going into any situation. Don’t be closed off to trying new things just because you’re scared of the outcome. Break down all your walls and barriers but don’t lose sight of who you are. Finally, go after what you want because if you never take that chance, then you’ll never know what could’ve been.

I wish there was a way to start all over again but unfortunately the ball must deflate. Thank you for the all the memories, the people I’ve come to call my family and the best ride of my life GSUVB. The ninja turtle glasses will live on forever.

Crying in the club

xo Grace Cergol

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SUMMER ’19

What’s up summer blog readers 🙂 You’re probably expecting a compelling, immaculate blog post after reading Maddie McLaughlin’s from last week. Well I’m just here to start off by saying, Maddie is like the Jane Austen or Emily Dickinson of our team, so mine may be a little less poetic. But good job Maddog, loved your work, hope to get your autograph soon. 

My name is Grace Cergol, I’m an outside hitter and I’m going to be starting my SENIOR year in the fall. I just had to take a huge breath while typing that sentence out because I’m in complete and utter shock. Can someone please explain to me how I’m a senior already. I remember the first day of preseason freshman year where Kat, Sam, Shea, Abby and I basically didn’t say a word to each other… but aw look how far we’ve come (shoutout you guys, you’re the homies). 

Before my last year of college commences, I’m trying to jam-pack as many activities as I can into these short summer months. To start it off, I immediately joined a gym and set up appointments with my physical therapist. Working out and training for this upcoming preseason is most of what I’m focusing on this summer. That and trying to get my bum knee back to normal, or my “new normal”. I’ve become more acquainted with the fact that I have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and push myself to heights that I’ve never reached before. 

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Other than profusely sweating at the gym, I’ve been interning for the Director of Marketing and Events at The Adecco Group. I’ve been able to part take in setting up and gathering details for corporate events here on Long Island and in New York City. In July I’ll be attending 3 different events in NYC including a Formula E meeting, which sponsors an electric race car company and a P4P event which is a women’s empowerment group and exposition. To say the least, this job is preparing me to take on the real world in less than a year. Yikes. 

Sorry, have to take a break from writing, I’m trying to finesse our warm-up playlist. 

(About 30 minutes later) Kk I’m back now. Still not done but if anyone wants to check it out on my spotify / give me suggestions, my username is gracecergol and the playlist is called GSUVB 19’ 😉 (self advertising btw). 

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Grandma’s bday dinner

Some other riveting things that I’ve done this summer, hmmm well.. I turned 21. Also yikes. My friends and family actually threw me a surprise birthday and I had negative idea that any of it was going on. Props to anyone who helped make that happen, you took advantage of my state of oblivion well because I had no clue. The other lovely thing I got to do that weekend was reunite with one of my best friends, teammates, and now known as Ms. Copenhagen, Shea Casey. I missed how entertaining you are and the amounts you can talk :). Glad to have you back girl. For the rest of the summer I plan on hanging with IMG_6883my friends and fam, GOING TO THE BEACH AS MUCH AS I CAN (i haven’t been once ~sad~) and my boyfriend, Elijah, and I are planning on going to Montreal to attend the musical festival, Osheaga. We both have never been to Canada eh so it should be tons of fun… updates to come. Oh and you know of course getting ready for the most epic 2019 season. 

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Lastly, I just wanted to give my little sis Mia a shoutout. Happy prom and graduation you stud 🙂 I know you may be distraught leaving high school and all of your friends, but these next four years of college are going to be a wild ride and probably the best years of your life. So cherish the memories you’ve made and look forward to the ones that’ll come. I know you’re going to do incredible things on the court this fall and make sure you bring home that ring!! It’s dawg time. 

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~beautiful little sis~

 

 

 

 

 

 

To my team – I am forever grateful to call you guys my second family and I plan on giving my everything to this last season and all of you. Lil froshies – don’t be worried or nervous. You are going to have the absolute time of your life playing vball and going to school here. Just remember to be yourself and stay confident. To my seniors – it’s our last ride. Honestly crying in the club writing this right now. I don’t know how on earth 4 years just flew by in a blink of an eye. Let’s play our hearts out in that gym this fall and get after it. Finally, I promise to the GSUVB fam that I will do everything in my power to be back in the gym grindin’ out with the rest of you. It may be extremely difficult at some points but I know you guys will have my back and pick me up when I need it… and of course I will always do the same for you people. I love you all.  

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HAPPY FLIPPIN SUMMER 

xo always, 

Grace

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?

~Summer 2018~

Hellllooooo everyone! My name is Grace Cergol and I am going to be tackling junior year starting this fall. Let me repeat, JUNIOR YEAR. That is crazy to hear but even crazier to say. It is finally starting to feel like summer here on Long Island with the 85 degree weather and the blaring sun. Even though I am not always able to lay outside and tan each day, which trust me I would do 24/7, I am definitely making the most out of my  busy summer.

To kick off my vacation, I was hired as an intern at two different companies, the Huntington Arts Council, which is 10 minutes away from my house, and Identity/Triptent, which is located on 14th St. in Manhattan. On Mondays and Wednesdays at the H.A.C., I work on the things like the local newspaper and web posts about a concert series they are holding this summer. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I commute about 1 1/2 hours to the city for my other internship with Identity Media. Some of the bigger projects I’ve worked on were coming up with campaign slogans for different companies and coming up with numerous celebrities to promote different company’s products (like Sophia Bush for Pandora). I am learning a bunch of new things that I will apply later on in life when I step into the real world and get an actual job.

Buuutttt I do get Friday’s off! Thankfully, every Friday has been beautiful so far and I’ve been able to go to the beach to TAN ~YAY~ with my friends, so we are praying for more Friday’s like that.

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Okay, now to the fun stuff 🙂 (just kidding, my internships are super fun). A few weeks after getting home, Shea, Gabby and I went to the Governor’s Ball Music Festival on Randalls Island in the city. There we saw so many performers that we loved like Eminem, N.E.R.D., Lil Uzi, Khalid, and Amine. And let me tell you, when I say it sounds like Eminem is speaking another language because he is rapping so fast, I absolutely mean that.

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You mean “Ball is Life” ha

About 11 days after Gov Ball on June 14th, I turned 20! I feel so old now and everyone keeps saying, “You’re halfway to 40” which scares me, a lot. This year on my birthday, I did what I always have done, just go to the beach. But the day after, I got to do a little surprising myself. Well sorta. All of the rising sophomores had visited us L.I.er’s for a weekend but they had no idea that the rising juniors, from upstate, were also going to be joining us. Of course, I had to accidentally ruin the surprise the morning of, but we still had a great time together.

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That weekend I also made Abby, Kat and Sam try as much famous Long Island food as possible. Well, they actually just ate a lot of bagels @AbbyMay. But I also did make them try Little Vincent’s famous cold cheese slice and they pretty much devoured them.

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Besides the fun, little excursion with the team, I have been trying to play as much volleyball as I can. I’m going to try to go to all of my sister’s high school open gyms (sorry Mia lol), play beach, and play with my old club team.

The first time I played with my club team this summer, we scrimmaged a 16’s team, which was fun, but we also got to share some of our recruiting/college volleyball experiences. DO NOT WORRY, all good things about Geneseo veebz and the school in general. I loved talking about our culture/community with them and I also told them that if they are looking to be recruited to hit up Coach Hunter and get on the Geneseo radar ;).

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spot Enzo (my dog)… the biggest baller

As for the rest of my summer, my family and I plan on going to Bermuda, my sister (hopefully) and I (definitely) will be attending the Geneseo Volleyball overnight camp, and my friends and I would love to go on our annual Hamptons trip. Oh and of course more volleyball at home.

So yes, I guess I’ve had a pretty eventful summer so far and hope to continue to keep busy. Even though I do love it at home, I absolutely cannot wait to get back up to Geneseo. You froshies are going to LOVE it and we can’t wait to make you feel right at home in our disgustingly hot gym (jk it’s not too bad). And to my current teammates, I can’t wait to see all of you nuggets again and maybe I’ll try to surprise you upstaters one time, but I promise I won’t ruin it. Hope everyone has MARVELOUS summers and see you peeps so soon!

xo always,

Grace Cergol

What the Game Means to Me – A blog by SO Grace Cergol

Volleyball. A noun. It is defined as “a game for two teams, usually of six players, in which a large ball is hit by hand over a high net. The aim being to score points by making the ball reach the ground on the opponent’s side of the court.” Yes, this may be the technical definition of the game, but to me it means so much more.

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I started playing this wonderful sport at the young age of 11. At that time, I did not realize how much of an impact it would have on my life 9 years later. This game has allowed me to express so many different emotions, learn so many great life lessons, and has let me form relationships that will last an eternity.

 

I would like to start off by asking you as readers, what is your outlet? What is the one thing that you rely on to make you feel sane? Well you can probably guess mine. Volleyball is my rock. When I walk into the gym for practice or a game, nothing else matters to me except playing in that moment. It is a place where I can let off steam from a stressful week, or a place where I can be my goofy self and just let loose. I know for a fact that as soon as I lace up my worn out sneakers and slide my sweaty/smelly kneepads on, my mood will instantly be better. This is my outlet, so I encourage you all to find yours. I promise there is no better feeling knowing that something can make you that happy and stress free.

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Secondly, this game has allowed me to learn so many amazing life lessons that I will take with me on my journey outside of the gym. While growing up, several of my coaches used tough love in their teaching strategies. At first, I thought that this method of coaching was not effective and I was not going to learn this way. When I reached high school, I realized that their tough love had changed me for the better. Over the years it has instilled a high competitive grit in me that is very easy to see when I play.

 

This game has also taught me to be an exemplary leader and just a better person overall. I have learned to be accountable for not only myself but also for my teammates. I have also grasped the true definition of class and what it means to be selfless. The Geneseo Volleyball family and I define class as respecting all aspects of the game by staying humble and having integrity. We also describe selflessness as no matter your role, serve the teams interest before your own individual interests.

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Lastly, I have been able to form the most incredible relationships that I will certainly cherish forever. I have been a part of about 5 different teams that I will always consider family. But I thought I’d touch upon the weirdest and craziest of them all, the Geneseo Volleyball Team. To say the least, we are all truly ourselves around one another and maybe sometimes too weird for others to handle lol. I know for a fact that I can go to any of them with problems I might be facing. If I’m down about something, they will definitely put a smile on my face. We also all cheer each other on when something good happens to us. Example, this past week Mary received a 96 on her Biology exam and we all texted back with responses like this: LET’S GOOOOO MARY THAT’S FREAKING AWESOME. So to say we are supportive of one another would be an understatement. I am so thankful that I have been given the opportunity to play with these girls and become so close to every one of them. So thank you Volleyball, I will be forever grateful.

 

As you can see, this is so much more than a game to me, it is a lifestyle. It has taught me how to be a well-rounded person, how to thrive in pressure situations, and of course form bonds that will last a lifetime. In 2 years, I don’t know what I will do having to be separated from the game, but I plan on giving back to the sport that has given me more than I could have ever asked for.

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Summer 2017

Hey everyone!!! My name is Grace Cergol and I’m going to be an incoming sophomore here at the greatest place in the world (Geneseo). There’s approximately 552 hours until we are back in our blistering hot gym. This summer has not been a bummer, lol, but I am upset that it has been going by so fast. However, I cannot wait to see all the ladies I love while playing the sport I’m obsessed with.

To start my summer off I went to the Governor’s Ball Music Festival in New York City. My friends and I had a boat load of food and listened to all different types of music including Chance the Rapper. Considering listening to music is one of my favorite hobbies, I had an incredible time!

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My friend Bari and I at Gov Ball! 🙂

 

Along with music festivals and tons of food, my summer has been full of Long Island sunsets. They definitely don’t compare to the ones at Geneseo but I say they come in a close second. Most nights a group of friends and I would go down to our local beach, put out picnic blankets and gaze at the view until dark. It has been and will always be one of the most relaxing things to do in my opinion. The sound of the waves, of course great food and good company. What more can you ask for?

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My family and I also added a new addition to our home. He’s a fun loving little guy and loves to cuddle:). His name’s Enzo and he’s an energetic little French bulldog! It has definitely been a little tough to raise a 4 month old puppy over the summer but we make the most of it. And just like my last dog, Rudy, Enzo always falls asleep next to my dad at the end of the day and they both snore away.

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This was the day we got to take the little guy home!

 

The rest of my summer has been going to work at an Italian restaurant, Spuntinos, going to the beach as much as I can, playing beach volleyball, and of course watching the Bachelorette. This past weekend all of my girlfriends and I went on our annual getaway to our friend Lindsay’s Hampton house. This year was the most memorable because it was probably the first time we had all been together since coming home from our different schools. We set off fireworks, made s’mores, had a huge barbecue and went shopping in downtown Sag Harbor. About 361 days till we’re back out there!!

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Relaxxxxinnnn 🙂

 

Alongside beach volleyball, my dad, my sister and I play in our backyard when we are hanging at home. Since my sister, Mia, is a setter, my dad would toss balls to the net and she would normally set go balls to the outside for me to swing at. Our dad thinks he is an AWESOME volleyball player so my sister and I just love having light hearted fun with him.

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Oh and also quickly, if there are any gossip girl fans reading this, I found out that Bart Bass owns a house the town over from mine. I was also told that he loves to eat at the restaurant I worked at. On a random Tuesday around 2:30pm he walked in with his wife and I was seriously speechless. Here is me crying on the inside because Bart Bass was taking a picture with me.

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Lastly, I would just like to reiterate how EXCITED I am to be back in the swing of things at school and playing volleyball with the most hard working group of girls. And to our incoming freshman: stay confident and be yourselves, you guys are going to feel right at home. ILY ALL SO MUCH. See you all super soon. xox

-Grace Cergol 🙂

 

Hi everyone! Hope everyone’s having an amazing summer filled with laughs and memories. Normally for my summer I would be working 5 days a week at a day camp. But this year I’ve decided to relax a little more and spend more time at home with friends and family, and of course playing volleyball!

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To kick start my summer, high school officially came to and end with my senior prom and graduation! The prom was held at the Atlantis Aquarium in Riverhead, and we actually ate dinner and danced next to the sharks and many other sea creature tanks! Our graduation was the next day on our high school track and it was an emotional roller coaster. So many wonderful speeches from teachers, students and administrators.

 

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My friends and I after our graduation ceremony!

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Now that my friends and I have had all this down time, we mainly spend our sunny days at Robert Moses Beach on the south shore, and of course play tons of beach volleyball!

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Here is my best friend holding her niece, Avery Hope!

Overall my summer so far has been relaxing and enjoyable but I can’t wait to move up to Geneseo this upcoming fall to meet all my new teammates and coaches and dive into my new learning experience. I’m sure I’ll miss the comfort of my home but I am so looking forward to the place that I will call home for the next 4 years and all of the people I will meet! Have a great summer everyone!!

Grace Cergol, Freshman