A Letter to My Younger Self – A Blog by JR Kat Vernon


Dear Young Kat,

First thing’s first – please stop putting such harsh filters on your Instagram pictures, it’s embarrassing. Also, get rid of that wretched pink tank top you always wear, it’s just not it, chief.

Now that we got out of the way, I’m going to get a little bit serious. First of all, stop taking things so seriously. I probably shouldn’t say this, but stop being so hard on yourself about school. High school is really not that big of a deal, you have so many bigger and better things coming for you later in life.

Next, do what makes you happy. Try not to do things just because that’s what everyone else is doing. I know you think that listening to “pop” music is cool, but trust me, it’s okay to love indie-alternative-folk music instead. Liking something that’s “weird” or not “normal” is a really great thing, and you’re gonna figure that out when you get to college.

And to whoever told you that pursuing a career in film editing wasn’t a good idea because you wouldn’t make a lot of money – DO NOT listen to them. They’re wrong. Yeah, you may not be the boujee-est person in town, but it makes you so incredibly happy and that’s all that really matters. Do what you absolutely love to do. Do something that you truly enjoy doing and puts a smile on your face. Once you figure that out, everything else will work itself out.

And lastly, confronting your mental health straight on is so important. I am so proud and thankful that you figured that out early on. It might have felt strange or weird, but it made a huge difference and I cannot thank you enough for that. Being open and willing to talk about your mental health with others is not only beneficial to you, but to the whole world. Embrace it. Change is a thing you can count on, don’t forget it (Surprise! You have a tattoo of a triangle to remind you of this, I know you thought you’d never get one but haha – joke’s on you!).

You’re going through some really tough times right now, I know. But trust me when I say that it will get better. Everything that you’ve gone through and will go through only makes you stronger. Right now, I am the happiest I’ve ever been and it’s all thanks to the ups and downs of life. You will grow into a weird, funny, loving person and you’ll soon learn to love yourself for who you are.

One more thing – go to Taco Bell right now. Your metabolism is gonna catch up one day and you’re not gonna be able to eat as many tacos as you are right now! And go to Dairy Queen for dessert!

Love always,

Old Kat (ew I’m 21 and a Junior in college, how the heck did that happen??)


My Legacy

At some point in every athletes career they have heard the word legacy. A coach could have discussed the legacy of a past team or a specific athlete or the legacy of a coach. Athletes hear at practices or games live up to your legacy or work hard for the legacy that has been put in your hands to keep up. I have been personally thinking about the type of legacy I want to leave here on the Geneseo women’s volleyball team and many things come to my head.

The first part of my legacy is that I want to be the first Geneseo Women’s Volleyball team to win a SUNYAC Championship and get our names on the banner in Schrader gym. This legacy can not be done just by myself, but there is not a doubt in my mind that every single one of my teammates wants this just as much as I do.

The second part of my legacy is that I want to be remembered as always being the person to come into the gym with excitement to play. Pride and opportunity are words that I think of when thinking of why I play for the Geneseo Women’s Volleyball team. Pride because every time I walk in the gym I get a feeling that I completely belong there. I want the future players for this program to feel the same way I do. When I walk places wearing Geneseo volleyball apparel and people stop and ask me about it, my whole day gets better.

Screen Shot 2019-04-17 at 9.22.00 PMOpportunity because there are not many athletes who get to say they love what they do everyday. Opportunity to travel and experience life with the most amazing teammates. Opportunity that many people never get a chance to do as much as they wish they could. Opportunity to work hard for all the people that got me to this point in my athletic career.

Screen Shot 2019-04-17 at 9.22.32 PMLegacy is a weird word in my opinion and can be interpreted differently. Maybe your success in breaking records creates your legacy, or an amazing play that everyone talks about creates your legacy. But for me I want my legacy to be more than that…I want to be remembered by upholding everything it means to be a part of the Geneseo Women’s Volleyball team. I want to be known as the most relentless player to ever play in Schrader gym.

A Thank You Letter- A Blog by SO Allison Wick

Most people don’t understand how privileged they are to have two parents. Life is much easier when you have two adult role models helping guide you through life. While I didn’t get the privilege of having both a mom and a dad, I never felt at a disadvantage. My mom worked twice as hard as a parent to make sure I got everything I wanted out of life. She did everything she could to help support me, and teach me everything I needed to be successful. I do not express how thankful I am for you enough. I know it wasn’t easy being a single mom raising me and my three siblings. It took a lot of courage, willpower, and patience. I learned so much from you. You have made me the person I am today and again I am thankful for that.

The first, and most important, thing you taught me is to fight for what you deserve and never settle. You never settled for less than you deserved in your life. You knew what you wanted, and you went after it. It wasn’t easy for you to be a single mother going back to school but, you knew you wanted better for yourself and us. As anyone who has gone to college knows it isn’t easy and for you to do it while taking care of four kids is inconceivable. You showed me that life is going to be challenging. You taught me that I am going to have to fight for myself and just because other people doubted me, doesn’t mean that I should doubt myself.

You also taught me how to be independent. You didn’t have the time to be constantly nagging me on all my decisions and because of that, I learned how to hold myself accountable. You allowed me to make mistakes and learn from them. You helped prepare me for life. I can’t depend on other people to do everything for me. However, you also showed me its okay to ask for help when you need it.

While most people would think having a single parent would give you a disadvantage, I think it made me a better person. Having a single mother gave me a strong independent woman as a role model which very few people are lucky enough to have in their life. You gave me all the tools and opportunity’s I need to be successful. I may not be the best at showing how much you mean to me but, I am extremely thankful for all that you taught me, the opportunity’s you gave me, and everything you sacrificed for me.

With love,
Allison Wick

A Letter to Someone Who Inspires Me – A Blog by JR Abby May

The person I am writing this letter to is probably the least likely to stumble across this blog post at all… Anyone that knows my father knows he is not the most tech-savvy guy. Anyways, I hope mom sees this somewhere so you can read it 🙂



I know I’m not the most open in expressing my feelings to you and mom, but I’ve found it much easier to write it out instead…

The first thing I would like to say is thank you. I know you don’t think we have to thank you, but it’s hard not to after all you’ve done for us. Thank you for always having my best interests in mind, for letting me make my own mistakes and learn for myself, and for teaching me that life’s too short to take it too seriously.




Here are some of the ways you inspire me…


I admire your strength in the face of adversity. I won’t go into depth because I know you don’t want the world knowing, but I cannot even begin to fathom your strength in the battling of your long-lasting illnesses. The past ten years have probably been some of the toughest of your life, and somehow you had managed to trick me into thinking it wasn’t as bad as it actually was. No matter how crappy you felt, you always put your wife and five kids first. You took us on adventures every weekend and multiple nights during the week. You continued to be the amazing father we all know, love, and appreciate. I am amazed by your overall optimism and faith that your health will improve, as well as your mentality that every day on earth is a good one. I know you will do whatever possible to be able to watch us all grow up and have families of our own, which is something your parents weren’t fortunate enough to have; but I know with all my heart that they are looking down on us and they are more proud of you than they ever could’ve imagined.


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Always Give 100%

Something you didn’t really have to vocalize much, but rather taught us by the act of doing, was to do something right or to not do it at all. I know you said you weren’t always this way, that you learned from trial and error, but by observing you all my life, I know you almost never take the easy way out. If I ever think of taking the easy route or to not give my best effort, I immediately hear a voice in the back of my head that leads me to do otherwise. I obviously have not mastered this, as I don’t believe anyone truly can; but what I can do is strive to feel that sense of fulfillment when I give my all to something as much as possible.





You’re ability to make something from almost nothing absolutely amazes me. Whether it’s something like building tree houses, beach volleyball courts, or ice skating rinks for all of us kids to enjoy; or rather something much larger, like starting your own business from nothing but a two-year degree and a $5000 loan that no bank seemed to be willing to give you. Through tons of strength-of-will tests and obstacles that I cannot even begin to comprehend, you managed to create something that would support all seven of us from day one; and for that, I am forever grateful. I know you don’t look at all of this as something magnificent you’ve done, but rather something you needed to do as a husband and father… but just know that the people you love admire you for your mental strength, resiliency, and positivity.





Always Make Time for the Things That Make You Happy

Last but not least, one of my favorites that I will carry throughout the rest of my life… you have always taught us how important it is to make time to do the things we enjoy. No matter how crazy life gets, you always make time for the various hobbies you like; whether by yourself, with your brothers/friends, or with us kids. It’s when life seems too much to handle that these times are the most important. They are what will keep us grounded in the face of tougher times.


You are a great inspiration to me and are a person whom I believe has always understood me on a level no one really ever could. This connection didn’t come from having frequent deep and personal conversations–something we all know I don’t really like to do–it’s just something that has always been. Some would say it’s just a father-daughter bond, but I believe it is much more than that. You know my overall mental state in the drop of a dime, without much interaction at all. You know that if I am struggling with something, I will eventually figure it out. However, there were times when you knew I needed some of your words of wisdom and/or a push to take that first step in the right direction. Even in those times, you knew the exact point to intervene. It was somehow always the perfect point in time when I wouldn’t be angry for you wanting to help, but rather I understood and appreciated how much you cared for me.

You and mom amaze me every day. Thank you for being the best parents anybody could ask for. You both are truly an inspiration.


With love from your favorite middle child,

Abby (aka scoocher)


A Letter to My Past Self—A Blog by FY Maddie McLaughlin

Dear Maddie from the past,

            Great news! As your future self can now confirm, everything you so fervently wished for has come true. Keep the faith, because before you know it, you’ll be opening your own private, high-end morgue and breeding mountain pygmy possums on the side. In addition, as a producer of The Bachelor, you’ll be chauffeured around in a stretch limo driven by Kim Kardashian.

APRIL FOOLS!!!!! Here’s the real one:

Dear Maddie from the past,

            I’m writing to you because I know you are at a particularly difficult stage of your young life; you are currently standing at a significant crossroads, unsure of the correct path to take. Well, I have some bad news: there is no path. The secret is that in order to get where you want to go, you must be willing to grab a machete and hack your way through the underbrush, creating your own path in the process. The good news is that sports are not gone from your life forever. Although athletics or physical activity of any kind may seem utterly impossible right now given your illness, you will play sports again. And I know what your next train of thought is: it’s too late. No! Don’t allow your fear of failure or inadequacy prevent you from reaching for the things you want most out of life.  Remember that we rarely regret the things we did do, but rather we almost always regret the things we didn’t do.

            With this in mind, keep taking those herbal supplements and drinking those green smoothies (that will continue into college; you have a bright relationship with vegetables ahead of you), and trust that no matter how confusing, painful, and wholly unfair it may seem, everything is happening as it should. Trust that you will recover, you will play volleyball again, you will run again, and you will live in the fullest sense of that word again. Furthermore, despite your incessant fretting, you will end up at a beautiful college with the distinct privilege of playing on an even more beautiful volleyball team. So do your best to live each day with gratitude, humor, and a deep sense of purpose. Treat each day like the unique gift it is, and understand that in the end, there is no such thing as failure. There is only experience.

            Yours (literally),

                                    Maddie from the future

P.S. When your coach assigns you a blog entry, please don’t wait until the last minute to do it…

10 Life Lessons

Playing a college sport is a privilege that an athlete should never take for granted. Sports provide a competitive outlet and life-long friendships, but most importantly lessons that encourage discipline and resilience.

Upon reading Adm. McRaven’s “My 10 Life Lessons From SEAL Training”, I was surprised that I was able to apply them to my life as a student athlete. McRaven is a retired United States Navy admiral who served from 1977-2014. He is a respected individual with a published book and a multitude of awards and badges from the military. In 2014, he recited the 10 lessons for a commencement speech at University of Texas at Austin.

I am not saying his 10 lessons are perfectly comparable. Navy SEAL Training is definitely much more grueling than being a student-athlete. However, I think these lessons hold true to anyone, especially to student athletes and my experience as one.

1. If you want to change the world, start making your bed

My mom has annoyed me with this one since I was probably tall enough to reach the top of a bed. Nonetheless as a college kid, you do not have your mom telling you to do that. There is something important about starting off your day right, or as my Chemistry professor “planting happy seeds”. This easy, controllable task can set a better tone for your day, and your life.

2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle

You cannot be successful without your team by your side. As someone that loves to be on my own and independent, being on a team has helped me learn the value other people. If I am ever feeling down, I know I can look to my teammates for the support that I did not know I needed. When the team is working together and helping each other out, we win. It is as simple as that.

3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers

The best matches are when Geneseo Volleyball plays with heart. Chances are the “size of our flippers” or our skill level, are relatively the same every time we play in a season. What makes us play harder and stronger is when we have a passion and drive like no other.

4. If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward

Even when we lost SUNYACs last year (2018), we keep moving forward. It does not matter how much we prepared for and how much work we put in, it is the way life goes. We are on to the next title, no need for complaining or talk of last year.

5. If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses (form of punishment in SEAL training if you fail to meet physical standards)

The pain of punishments build our inner strength. Serve or Sprint is a game that we hate because of this. Let’s say the rules for that day are everyone has to make their serve in a certain area AND in a row. It is likely that we will fail and face the punishment. Although that is discouraging, it tests our composure, conditioning, and inner resilience.

6. If you want to change the world, sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first

If you want to win you have to take risks in volleyball and in life. As a hitter, game point can be a stressful yet empowering situation. I will never forget the in-season game point I had against New Paltz when they passed an over pass. I had the decision to either hit it or step off the net to pass. The decision to be aggressive solidified the game win, and contributed to our undefeated SUNYAC season.

7. If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks

There are people constantly trying to bring you down, but “if you hope to complete the swim you have to deal with them”. There is no hiding from your opponents in volleyball. If you want to step on the court you have to face the other team. If you want to have an impact, rise to their level or take a seat on the bench.

8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in your darkest moment

There are times when you feel down in volleyball or in your outside life. I think of that week that happens every season where you have like 3 tests and 2 and a half hour practices every day. Your body is sore, your brain is racing with ideas, and you have a big tournament weekend. That is the time to do your best. Show the world that you can stay composed in this time and effortlessly allow your preparation and skills shine through.

9. If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your head in mud

Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed with almost any emotion, you can usually find me singing or humming. You cannot take life or the game of volleyball too seriously. A mistake, loss, or rut is not the end of the world and laughing (or singing) it off will only ease the blow. In addition to that, the calmness you demonstrate is contagious to the rest of the team.

10. If you want to change the world, don’t ever, ever ring the bell

In SEAL training, there is a bell that you can ring if you would like to quit. How easy my life would probably be if I could just quit school, volleyball and all the other extracurriculars I do? Easy, but not satisfying. I have learned that I live for the challenges and obstacles that provide these lessons for me. I strive to constantly better myself, learn new things, and hopefully accomplish something like a SUNYAC championship.

Can’t do any of it if you ring the bell.

What is Geneseo Volleyball

Hey everyone! It’s Mary Bartkus, a sophomore setter from Albany, NY (if you didn’t already know). For those who know me, you know I can get pretty sappy with things like these blogs, so I decided to switch it up this time around and talk a little more serious with everyone (but not too serious). I wanted to talk a bit about the basics of what Geneseo volleyball is and what it means to us as a team. Last year, we revamped what it meant to be a part of out program by setting what we call our Values of Excellence. We put so much time and thought into making a defined list of values we want to uphold while we’re in the gym, on campus, in the community, at home, and anywhere else in the world we may go. Here they are:








If you don’t mind, I’m going to go over and summarize what each one means to our team, but I’m kind of going to do it in my words. If you do mind, you can enjoy the lovely pictures I’ll have going along with it instead.


Our program holds ourselves to a high standard of how we present ourselves to our school, our community, our opponents, professors, officials, coaches, bus drivers, spectators, aka anyone who we come across in our daily lives as student athletes. Anywhere we go, in our full blueberry suits or not, we leave an impression of who we are on the people we interact with. For us, it’s unacceptable to fall below this standard. It’s as simple as holding doors, making conversation with your professors, thanking those who help us travel, and as hard as it can be sometimes, to accept an official’s call with grace, even when it doesn’t go our way.


This one always gets me pumped. We get in the gym every day, whether is in regular season, off-season, or spring season, ready to go. It’s easy to do when you know the work you’re putting in is for a greater cause, which for all of us is our program’s success. We are invested in making individual improvements every day as volleyball players and as people to excel in our game. Knowing that we believe in ourselves completely and totally, gets us fired up to get in and practice or go play a match.


Urgency is a value that we work very hard at to keep level. It’s a very difficult concept for volleyball players to keep consistent under changing conditions. Like most competitive teams, we love a challenge, and we rise to the occasion. Under different, maybe not as competitive circumstances, there is a tendency for many volleyball teams to fall short. Under our Values of Excellence, it is unacceptable to fall short of this value. This means all out defense, this means setting consistent balls, this means aggressive swings. Of course, it’s impossible to have perfect outcomes every time, never mind even most of the time. But urgency is the will power, the want to strive for these things, the want to compete in any situation at hand.


This one is pretty easy for us if I’m going to be honest. I think this is a value we all shared even before getting to Geneseo. I have never felt more comfortable with a team ever before these past two years. Selflessness to us is giving to the team before you give to yourself. Have a bad day? No problem. You know your teammates will be there to pick you up. Still having a bad day? You reach out to someone else. Helping others can help heal yourself too. This goes for life and on the court. Everyone is doing their job, not for the personal success or the stats. Everyone is here for the team and the team’s goals.


Accountability is often what drives us when we get in ruts or when we’re having a bad day. We go into every practice with a goal and we say it out loud. That way your teammates can hold you responsible, and since you said it out loud honey you better be accountable for yourself. It’s such a collective team effort for us. It’s not just a coach or a captain keeping everyone in check, it’s everyone, together.



YAY. We made it to happiness. Everyone on this team at some point was that little girl who just wanted to play volleyball. Looking up at all the big girls playing saying “just wait until I can jump that high/swing that hard/move that fast/etc.” It was a cool part of growing up and realizing that volleyball is something that makes me very very happy. No matter the situation, good or bad, I know that physically playing and getting lost in the moment is like no other. We recognized this common feeling and made it one of our values. Everyone believes that we play our best when we are caught in that “vibe” moment, and that stems from the genuine happiness of playing the game. It’s really special.


Family is our little add-on value, you could say. We have our ups and downs, but we come back together, because we are each other’s home away from home. I wouldn’t ask for it any other way.

So that’s it for my take on the Values of Excellence. I really hope you enjoyed and learned a little about who we are and what we stand for as Geneseo Volleyball.