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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Senior Letter Series- Sam Mendelsohn

To the place and people that have changed my life forever,

As I sit here writing this letter, I can’t help but feel a flood of emotions. These years have come and gone, each passing with new struggles and achievements. Every opportunity that I have been presented through athletics at Geneseo has gotten me to where I am today, and for that I will always be grateful. To be completely transparent, I did not want to write this letter whatsoever simply because it meant that the end is just that much closer. But now that I am, I am able to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly that has been my collegiate athletic experience.

Imagining my life without volleyball at Geneseo is nearly impossible. The people that I have met have impacted me in so many ways that I struggle to sit here and put words to it. My coaches, teammates, and athletic trainers have made it a priority that my experience here is one to remember and they most definitely have succeeded in doing so.

My freshman year, I came in as shy and unsure as could be. Being in a new place, with people that I have never met before was not something that I was necessarily comfortable with. However, one thing that I did find comfort in, was being in the gym playing the sport I loved. Slowly but surely, I was able to come out of my shell and my teammates were nothing but supportive and welcoming along the way. My freshman year taught me so many things, but specifically:

  • Be yourself.
  • Accept that you will struggle.
  • Don’t forget to have fun.

Final Season Record: 17-15. Lost to Brockport in the semifinals on November 4th.

Sophomore year I was more than ready to get back in the gym and compete. Coming off a monumental season, I knew that this team was more than capable to succeed. The people that were once strangers to me quickly became my family and the connections we had with one another only grew stronger during year two. Other teams now recognized that we were a force to be reckoned with and that Geneseo Volleyball was not what it used to be. Throughout sophomore year I most definitely changed for the better. I learned many valuable lessons, but specifically:

  • Trust your instincts.
  • Lead by example.
  • Work hard.

Final Record: 23-11. Lost to Fredonia in the semifinals on November 3rd.

Junior year was unlike any other, but not necessarily in the most positive way. I struggled. I struggled a lot. Both physically and mentally I was pushed to my absolute limits and felt lost in more ways than one. My volleyball skills lacked, my leadership skills lacked, and my confidence lacked. One thing that was a constant for me, however, was the love I felt from my teammates. Even when Schrader Gymnasium felt more like a prison than my escape from life, I came in every day knowing that someone would put a smile on my face. That in and of itself is something so special that I will forever be grateful for. Junior year allowed me to learn so much, specifically:

  • Prioritize mental health.
  • Take care of yourself before trying to take care of others.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Final Record: 22-10. Lost to New Paltz in the finals on November 3rd.

And now, senior year. To be honest, I feared that this season would pick up right where my junior year season left off. I didn’t know if I would be able to get back into a groove or if volleyball would even mean as much to me as it did before. To my pleasant surprise, the exact opposite happened. I have felt a love for the game that I have never felt before and have realized how much it truly means to me. I have made a conscious effort to enjoy every day because I know that my time is limited. Although my senior year is not over yet, I have already learned so much, specifically:

  • Don’t stress (or try not to as much).
  • Enjoy the little things.
  • Leave the place better than when you found it.

Final Record: To be continued…

Although records and stats have always mattered to me, what has come to matter the most is the experiences I have had. The experience of pushing that one extra rep when your body feels like its failing you. The experience of coming into practice every day and accomplishing one little goal at a time. The experience of testing your mental limits. The experience of joining a new family.

These are the moments that I am going to miss the most.

Each and every one of my teammates has impacted my life. From the seniors that were here when I first came in, to the freshmen that are now just joining our family. Please know that each and every one of you has made me not only a better athlete, but a better person. Thank you for teaching me so many valuable life lessons and for experiencing all of the ups and downs with me.

Geneseo Volleyball, thank you for letting me be a small part of your amazing story. I would give anything to stay, but I know that I am ready for whatever life throws at me because of you.

GSUVB will always hold a special place in my heart. No matter what.

Love always,

Sam Mendelsohn

Senior Letter Series: Abby May

To all the people who have been a part of my journey as a member of the Geneseo Volleyball Program—I truly cannot thank you enough.

From my first encounter with the team on my recruiting visit, I knew this was the place for me. I had been on other visits prior to Geneseo, and nothing else drew me in quite like this. The team dynamic, the culture, the competitive environment… it all just seemed to fit. This is my one true experience with the old saying, “trust your gut.” It most definitely led me to the right place. I know I have gotten the absolute most out of my collegiate experience because of the wonderful people that are currently apart of and have been apart of this program. I know with all my heart that this experience has played a huge part in molding me into who I am today, and I am incredibly grateful for that.

So, to start off, I’d like to thank the senior class of 2017 that was here when I was a little freshman. To Dani, Trish, Courtney, and Emma… thank you for welcoming me in with open arms and for teaching me so many valuable things about life, volleyball, school, and leadership. Being a senior now and looking back, I couldn’t imagine what my experience would have been like without such great people leading the way. I will never forget the extremely odd, yet hilarious, encounters between Trish and Court whenever they were together. Somehow you guys would make it through whatever act you were doing without laughing while everybody else was pissing themselves, and it is still a wonder to me how you could. I can say, however, that Katherine Vernon is doing a great job carrying your weirdness along. I don’t think I go a single day without her speaking in some weird voice or accent, or doing some weird dance moves. I’d also like to thank our foreign exchange student that was here for a semester to play with us. Luca, you are such a ball of both fire and sunshine. I am so happy you spent a semester abroad with us. You taught me a lot about life outside of my little upstate New York bubble, and even more about how to be entirely myself. You are such a special person and always stayed true to who you are. I thank you for your boldness and constant drive to compete.

And now for the class of 2018… Madison, Kaci, Sarah, and Emily. Thank you all for being such awesome overnight hosts and making me feel at home. You all showed me just how quickly such great and genuine friendships can form at college and especially with teammates. Madison, you did freak me out a bit with your weirdness, and I wondered for a long time if that was how you always were. I could always count on you to make me laugh in a heartbeat. Emily, thank you for your incredible leadership and contribution to our team. Your positivity is infectious, and your selflessness is unmatched. I truly cannot thank you enough for everything you’ve given to us, and for getting us where we are today. You stuck with us through all the major changes and craziness, and kept your composure at times when we all needed someone to look up to. GSUVB would not be who we are today without you, buddy.

To the class of 2021… Gabby, Moose, Alex, Kiersten, Erina, Mary, Bridget, and Allison. You guys brought so much talent and fire to this team. Gabby, I love your competitiveness and drive to make yourself and the others around you better. Moose, you are such a sweetheart and an amazing supporter. Thank you for being a true friend. Alex, your love and passion for the game is infectious. When times get a bit tough, your presence reminds us of how fortunate we are to have this opportunity. You are such a genuine person and friend, and I thank you for that. Kierst, your ~coolness~ is unmatched. You keep your composure in absolutely any situation and it is so helpful to our team. You lead by example in all aspects of being a student-athlete. Erina, my reen bean, thank you for always making me smile. You have such a positive effect on us all, and your unwavering support does not go unnoticed. Mar bear, you are such an incredible human, and a weird one at that. Once again, you always make me laugh. I never know what weird things are going to come out of your mouth, or pregame dance moves you’re going to pull out. You are such a strong, motivated, and passionate person, and I am so lucky to have a teammate and friend like you. Bridget, your ability to hit the ball so freaking hard still amazes me. You have played a huge part in getting us where we are now, and I thank you for that and also for your incredible support. And last but not least, Allisoñes. You are such a fierce competitor and it rubs off on everyone around you. You are such a unique person, and I look up to you for always staying true to yourself. Thank you for your passion for the game and drive to compete.

And now for the class of 2022… MK, Morgan, Emily Bablin, and Maddie. You four are such amazing additions to the GSUVB program. MK, your ability to pancake the ball amazes me. I still don’t understand how you dive so gracefully. My dive looks and sounds like I break every bone in my body, lol. Your happy and fun spirit is contagious to those around you, and I am so grateful for your presence. Morgan, you are such a ball of sunshine and you bring so much positive energy to this team. Thank you for your willingness to make yourself and those around you better. Babs, you are such an incredible person and addition to this team. I am so happy you joined us last spring. Thank you for being such an energy-giver and driven athlete. And lastly, Miss Maddie. You are such a hard worker and an incredible person. I look up to you for your desire for feedback and drive to improve. You are such a selfless and kind person, Mads. Thank you for being you.

And now for my current froshies… Jackie, Imbo, Grace Thomas, and Emily Haber. You all bring something very special to this team, and I want you all to know how thankful I am to be able to play my last year with you all by my side. Jackie B, your positivity and energy is contagious and so crucial to our success. You are so eager to improve and to receive feedback. Thank you for making us all want to be better every day. Imbo my nimbo, you have come such a long way in just a month. You have started to come out of your shell, and your talent and energy has exploded. Thank you for being such a kind and selfless person. G.Tom, you are so talented and driven. Your work ethic in and out of the gym is admirable. I know you will continue to do amazing things during your time here at Geneseo. And finally, Haber! Your competitive spirit and defensive skills are absolutely amazing. There is absolutely no ball you let hit the floor, and I look up to you for that.

And lastly, for the class of 2020— to the girls who have been with me through it all. Grace Cergol, Sam, Kat, Shea, Scheff, and Kendyll. Thank you for being there for me through all the ups and downs of volleyball, school, and life in general. You all have played a part throughout this journey in shaping me into who I am today. I know you all can agree that I am a very different person than I was three years ago. I’ve learned a lot of lessons, good and bad, and you’ve stuck with me through it all. I am now a better person because of that, so I thank you all for that. Grace, your talent and drive to compete is unmatched. You are such an amazing player and teammate, and have played a huge part in our program’s success. Samanther, you are the definition of relentless. I still don’t understand how you dig all the balls you do. You are somehow always in the perfect place at the perfect time and you make it look so easy. But we all know your job is anything but easy. Thank you for pushing us to be better, and not settling for just “good,” but pushing us to be “great.” Kat, thank you for your constant and incredible energy. No matter what is going on in your life, you push it aside to help the team succeed. Shea, thank you for being such an awesome supporter and energy giver. You have such a great presence on and off the court, and you have an incredible ability to make me laugh. Scheff, thank you for your undeniable support and kindness. You work so hard to reach your goals, and I admire you for that. And lastly, Kendyll. Thank you for the time you’ve put in in being a part of this program. You give so much positive energy and are such a great friend and supporter. Thank you 🙂

Finally, I’d like to thank all of the families and friends that have been with us along the way. You all are our biggest fans and supporters. Thank you for everything you do. From driving hours to watch us play, to bringing us food between matches, to your unrelenting love and support. Thank you for treating me like your own. I know we don’t thank you enough, but we truly wouldn’t be who we are or where we are without you.

Thank you, GSUVB, for giving me the best four years of my life, and for blessing me with such beautiful people along the way. I will never forget you.

 

With love,

Abby May

Meet Our First-Years: FY OH/OPP Isabella Imbo

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Name:      Isabella Kate Imbo  

Nickname(s): Imbo       Birthday: 8/24

Intended Major(s):  Biology

Family members (parents + include ages with siblings): 

Thomas and Donna Imbo

Bailey Imbo, 24

Julia Imbo, 18

Family members who competed in college or professional athletics (where and when): Bailey competed in track & field at SUNY Cortland, then transferred to SUNY Geneseo his junior year and graduated from here in 2017. Julia currently attends UAlbany and competes on the women’s lacrosse team.

Hobbies/Interests:  I like to cook and spend time with my friends.

Would you like to get involved in any organizations/clubs on campus? If so, what interests you? Any type of sustainability club and/or leadership organization interests me. 

Why did you choose Geneseo? It suits my major and it’s a very beautiful campus and active student life. _____________________________________________________________________

Favorites…

Color:  yellow

Movie: Back to the Future 

TV show: Breaking Bad

Food:  eggplant parmesan 

Musician/artist/band: Tame Impala and Brockhampton

Vacation spot: Montauk

Quote: “start strong, finish stronger”

My idea of happiness is: Being surrounded by people who love me and who I love back.

What motivates/inspires you: My dad. & knowing that others do not have the same opportunities that I do. 

What was the greatest compliment you’ve ever received? My friend once told me I could be a foot model

One thing I have to do before I turn 25: Drive cross country and visit lots of national parks.

Post-college/career plans: Medical school

Biggest pet peeve: Picky eaters and wastefulness 

If you were stuck on a deserted island, name 3 things/people you’d have to have with you to survive: My dad, matches for a fire, and something to play music on 

Three things you think your closest friends would say when asked about you as a person: “Loyal, gives good advice, understanding, determined, and easy going”

What is your greatest achievement in your life thus far? Wining county championship for the first time in my schools history. 
If you could be ANYONE other than yourself for a day, who would it be and why? Elon Musk because he’s an extremely intelligent and rich man who looks like he meets a lot of interesting people everyday.

What are you most looking forward to in your time at Geneseo? Hanging the banner with the Geneseo volleyball team!

Meet Our First-Years: DS/L Emily Haber

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Name: Emily Morgan Haber  

Nickname(s): Haber or Em      

Birthday: September 8th

Intended Major(s):  Undecided but most likely Communications

Family members (parents + include ages with siblings): Robin Haber, Russ Haber, Alyssa Haber – 20 

Hobbies/Interests: American Sign Language, spending time with friends, baking, rock climbing, etc…

Would you like to get involved in any organizations/clubs on campus? If so, what interests you? If i could get involved in any ASL clubs or organizations that would be ideal. I also would enjoy getting into any leadership and volunteer programs around campus.

Why did you choose Geneseo? I choose Geneseo for many reasons. Not only does Geneseo have outstanding academic and athletic programs, but it also has amazing people. The people are so helpful and kind – hearted, and genuinely want you to succeed. The welcoming and comfortable culture and environment that has been created here was one of the main reasons I chose to spend the next four years of my life at Geneseo.
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Favorites… Color: Blue 

Movie: Aladdin or Mulan 

TV show: Big Brother

Food:  Mashed potatoes

Musician/artist/band: T-pain

Vacation spot: Disney World

Quote: “Dream BIG. Start small. Be ridiculously faithful. Focus on what you can control.” “Everything will be okay in the end…if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

My idea of happiness is: Spending time with my friends and family.

What motivates/inspires you: My family, friends and peers motivate me, and push me, to be the best version of myself possible. Whether it is on the volleyball court or in the classroom I am always giving 100% effort and attempt to be the best that I can. 

What was the greatest compliment you’ve ever received? The greatest compliment that I have ever received is when people tell me that I am a great teammate.

One thing I have to do before I turn 25: Go skydiving.

Post-college/career plans:  Become a Sign Language Interpreter and Coach volleyball to others.

Biggest pet peeve: Burps

If you were stuck on a deserted island, name 3 things/people you’d have to have with you to survive:
Water/food

My best friends/family

A Volleyball

Three things you think your closest friends would say when asked about you as a person: Three things I think my friends would say about me is that I am passionate, reliable and dedicated.

What is your greatest achievement in your life thus far? Being able to be a reliable and trustworthy teammate and friend.

If you could be ANYONE other than yourself for a day, who would it be and why? I would be Sam Smith because I would want to be able to sing like him. 

What are you most looking forward to in your time at Geneseo?  Being apart of the Geneseo Volleyball Program and HANGING THAT BANNER!!!!

Meet Our First-Years: S Grace Thomas

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Name: Grace Marie Thomas 

Nickname(s): GTom, GT 

Birthday: December 13 

Intended Major(s): Biology 

Family members (parents + include ages with siblings): Darlene and Todd Thomas, Courtney 27 and Zachary 23. 

Family members who competed in college or professional athletics (where and when): My sister Courtney played at Broome Community College 2010 & 2011. 

Hobbies/Interests: Riding horses, playing basketball, spending time with my family, playing board games, watching movies, performing in musicals, and Guiding Eyes for the Blind. 

Why did you choose Geneseo? I chose Geneseo because it reminds me of my home town and it makes me feel like it’s a home away from home. Also everyone here is very nice and compassionate towards others which makes me feel more comfortable to be living here. One more thing is the volleyball team, they feel like a second family to me and support me in everything I do and help me when I may be struggling. So over all Geneseo is a great place to be. 

Favorites….Color: Pink or aqua blue 

Movie: Disney Movies 

TV show: Full House 

Food: Chicken Pot Pie 

Musician/artist/band: George Strait 

Vacation spot: Intercourse, PA 

Quote: Everything happens for a reason 

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My idea of happiness is: With my family, when I am stress free and worry free, enjoying a nice relaxing day. 

What motivates/inspires you: My family motivates and inspires me, whatever I do, I do it for them. 

What was the greatest compliment you’ve ever received? When one of my high school teachers said “That one day when I have a daughter I hope she is just like you.” 

One thing I have to do before I turn 25: Travel somewhere other than the east coast. 

Post-college/career plans: To become a veterinarian or a job that works and benefits animals in some way. 

Biggest pet peeve: When people don’t say thank you. 

If you were stuck on a deserted island, name 3 things/people you’d have to have with you to survive: My family, my pets, and a ball of some sort to entertain myself. 

Three things you think your closest friends would say when asked about you as a person: She is very kind and compassionate, she is respectful and responsible, and she is a perfectionist. 

What is your greatest achievement in your life thus far? When my high school volleyball team won the NYS Championship. 

If you could be ANYONE other than yourself for a day, who would it be and why? It would be my dog because I have always wanted to live a day as my dog. All she does is sleep, eat, and get pet all the time. So it would be nice to have a relaxing day where I didn’t have to do anything. 

What are you most looking forward to in your time at Geneseo? Making lifelong friends, and enjoying the whole college experience.

Meet our First-Years: MB Jackie Borland

 

IMG_0773Name: Jackie J Borland

Nickname(s): Jackie

Birthday: 05/17

Intended Major(s):
Anthropology/ SocioMedical

Family members (parents + include ages with siblings): Tammie and Dave Borland, Adam Borland (16)

Hobbies/Interests: Playing the drums and piano, hiking in the ADKs, baking, kayaking, snowboarding

Why did you choose Geneseo?
The environment was one of encouragement and no judgement. Geneseo also is turning my minor into a major and no other school I was looking at had that specific major.

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Favorite…Color: Sky Blue
Movie: Oceans 8
TV show: Parks and Rec
Food: Bread!
Musician/artist/band: Lauren Diagle
Vacation spot: San Diego CA

Quote: Bible verse– Romans 5:3-8 : Not only so, but we also glory in our
sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

My idea of happiness is:
When everyone around me feels loved and accepted

What motivates/inspires you:
It’s hard to put into words because it’s hard for me to really understand, but I think what motivates me is my faith. I want to honor God in all that I do. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to be saying a prayer in the middle of my hit, it means more along the lines of that when things get hard and I want to give up, I remember the life and sacrifice that Jesus endured for all of us and don’t give up, but push harder. It means that I run to the far side of the gym to pick up that ball even when I just played an hour of volleyball, and it means supporting, uplifting, and
encouraging my teammates.

What was the greatest compliment you’ve ever received?
My contagious enthusiasm and love for life and others

One thing I have to do before I turn 25:
Go on a missions trip

Post-college/career plans:
Get my masters and then a PhD in public health and maybe work for the CDC

Biggest pet peeve:
When things aren’t put back where they belong after someone is done using it

If you were stuck on a deserted island, name 3 things/people you’d have to have with you to survive: Bible, Knife, Water Filter

Three things you think your closest friends would say when asked about you as a person: Confident yet modest, hard working, kind-hearted

What is your greatest achievement in your life thus far? Hiking all of the ADK 46 highest peak or making it into the Honors College at Geneseo

If you could be ANYONE other than yourself for a day, who would it be and why?
Joy Huseland because she is the most selfless, loving, patient, understanding, and inspiring person that I know. She devotes her life to 72 girls a week for 8 weeks every summer and is such an important role model in these girls lives. Never has she ever said one mean thing about another person and she is so wise and a great listener.

What are you most looking forward to in your time at Geneseo?
Everything! Volleyball, learning about science and culture and medicine, making friends that I can someday call my life long friends, and being a part of the great Intervarsity organization.