A Letter to My Younger Self-Blog by SO MK Saladino

Dear younger MK,

I want to let you know that every decision you are making right now is leading your older self to the moment she is in now and you are exactly where you need to be. Every tough decision has led you to the path you are on right now and I would not change a single thing.  

First, I am going to bring it all the way back to when you were five years old. Those days life was great! You were a dope baller (basketball and softball of course), school was a piece of cake, you were incredibly shy, and boys had cooties. The only advice I have for you is, trust me it’s not the end of the world if you can’t style the hair you want to that day because mom says it looks crazy. Listen to mom, she knows best. 

Fast forward to middle school, you’ve tried basically every sport and your favorites are basketball and softball. Sports still come easy to you. Mom made sure you always listened to your coaches and didn’t sugar coat it when you had a bad game or weren’t trying hard enough. School is still a piece of cake for you and this is when you start to get less shy. You absolutely hate the fact that you are shy and want to be able to have fun in any situation without feeling awkward. You force yourself to talk to people and make tons of friends (girl friends of course because boys still have cooties). At this point all I have to say is I know you are trying very hard to branch out and make friends, but still be yourself. Don’t try and change just so someone else will like you. 

Now you’re in high school. This is where you make the best decision of your life and decide you want to try volleyball. Only now, you are not the only athletic one around. The summer before ninth grade, you go to one volleyball camp to learn how to play, but that was not pretty. You thought it was enough though because sports still come pretty easy to you at this point. You show up to high school tryouts with your two friends and don’t take it as seriously as you should have because you’ve never had to. You put the effort in, but you laugh and mess around a little bit more than you probably should have considering there were 37 freshman trying out and only seven were going to make the team. After tryouts your friends and you take a look at the team list and to your surprise your name is not on that list. You are heartbroken and shocked. This is the first rejection you have ever gotten from any sport. You are upset and mad at yourself because you know you could have tried harder. 

That day you learned a very important lesson that has shaped you into the player you are today. Always give 100% effort in everything you do and don’t ever think that you are guaranteed anything. Everything you do, you have to work for and earn. Sure you were naturally good when you were younger, but now you’re older and this is the real world where everyone around you has talent. You need to prove yourself to coaches. That day created a fire inside of you and I cannot thank you enough for following your heart and not giving up. You knew that this sport was not any ordinary sport. Something about it created butterflies in your stomach and all you could think about all day was wanting to get your hands on a volleyball. You knew that your volleyball career did not end here. Thank you for having the courage to not give up. 

Now you officially start high school, this is a very different experience for you. You start a new school, everyone around you has athletic talent, school isn’t as easy as it once was, you are uncomfortable and become shy again. This is when you decide to quit all other sports and stick with volleyball. You tryout for club (taking those tryouts seriously because now you know) and make the team. This is the best club season of your life. This is where your true love for the sport really grows you make some of your best friends and it’s amazing. 

My advice for my high school self is to not care so much. Everyone is going to have an opinion. Just show people the real you and if they like you great, if they don’t, it wasn’t meant to be. Be more confident in yourself. I know you had a rough start to volleyball but your skills have grown so much. Stop caring so much about what other people are thinking and just go out there and play. 

Now it’s senior year. You are awful at the college process. You blow it off for a while, but I know that’s mainly because you are scared. My advice to you is, stop being so scared, it will all work out. You are stressed about making the wrong decision because you’ve had such great experiences with volleyball this far that you are nervous your luck will run short. This will  not be the case one bit. When you show up to Geneseo preseason you will realize that it was the best decision you could have made. You will fall in love with the school and the team. Your love for volleyball will continue to grow. You will feel comfortable right from the start and that awful shy stage you hate going through will be the shortest one yet. 

As I am getting older, the biggest lessons I am learning are; follow your heart, take risks, be outgoing, be confident in yourself, and always give 100% effort. The only time you will have any regrets in life is if you know you could’ve given more. Thank you young MK for all the decisions you made that have led me to where I am right now.

Love Always,

An older and wiser MK (not much wiser though, still a lot of learning to do).

Summer’s Been Great…But Now it’s Time to Play Volleyball!

Hey Guys! MK here, sophomore Libero/DS on the Geneseo Volleyball team. My summer on good old Long Island has been pretty basic.

I waitress in a little diner by my house, shoutout Setauket Village unnamed(5)Diner, and lucky for me my shifts at are usually in the evening so there’s plenty of time during the day to hit the beach. At the beach my friends and I always bring the essentials: towels, sunscreen, spikeball, and skimboards. We always find a way to play spikeball, even if we go to the beach with less than four people, by making friends and of course we also make sure to always win. We also always make sure to skimboard. Ever since we saw a little boy doing cool skimboarding tricks on the beach, it has been a goal of ours to be able to do the same before the summer ends. As you can tell, it doesn’t take much to keep us entertained and we hate to sit still. 

The highlight of my summer was definitely spending a week out in Montauk. My grandma owns a house out there and every summer without a doubt, my family stays there for a week . It’s always the best week of the whole summer. All of our friends come out and the house is always so crowded. Imagine a family with four kids and each of us invites at least 3 friends plus their family’s. People end up sleeping in the kitchen the house is so full. Despite the lack of space, everyone has the best time spending the day at the beach,  coming back to the house playing card games and eating dinner and then heading back to the beach for a campfire at night. It was such a chill, laidback week and I look forward to it every summer.

I also got to see my suitemates from school this summer which was so much fun. Most of them live upstate, so they visited Long Island and we went to the beach, the city and just hung out. We walked the highline and went to the museum of illusions.  It was so nice to see them. I’m so excited to get to live with them this year so we can hang out every single day. 

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Not only did I see my suitemates, but I also saw some of my teammates at the Geneseo elite volleyball camp. It was so nice to go up to school and see my friends and Coach and spend some time in the gym this summer. Shrader gym never fails to give me good vibes and put a smile on my face. Going up to school to work the volleyball camp only made me ten times more excited for preseason to begin. 

To finish my summer up I am working a volleyball camp with Gabby, my fellow teammate, and then it’s back to the magical place I get to call home for the school year, Geneseo. 

With all these fun activities going on, I have also been making time to get to the gym and work out so I can be prepared for season. I have also been playing in beach tournaments as much as possible because I can’t stay away from volleyball for a whole summer. 

This summer has been great, but I cannot wait to be back in the gym with my best friends playing the game that I love.

Let’s make this season one to remember boys!

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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