First and foremost, we are at college to be students. However, each of us arrived at college by being more than students. Having outside activities is what allows us to prosper—more than that, it’s what inspires our passions and interests. In my class at Notre Dame, 89% ranked in the top 10% of their graduating class. In other words, we’re all good students. It’s our activities outside of our schoolwork that sets us apart!
Notre Dame is an extremely athletic school—as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, we’re much more than football. In all honesty, our other sports do better than football. I’ve also written about the various tiers of sports at Notre Dame in the past. In this post, I’d like to focus on my favorite of those tiers: club sports. I’m on the club volleyball team, and it’s been the best decision of my life. I believe that my experiences show the importance of not only participating in outside activities, but especially in those that provide a team environment and physical exercise!
I played volleyball throughout high school in an extreme way. I had tournaments every week, traveled with my high school and club teams, and spent many hours a week at practice. I thought I would end up playing on a varsity team in college, as many of my club teammates did too. However, when it came down to applying to colleges, I decided that I didn’t want the commitment of a varsity sport when I knew my focus was pre-medicine and academics in general. In this regard, I had to choose my identity as a student over my life as a volleyball player.
I was enjoying my first ever extended break from volleyball when I went to the Notre Dame club fair and met the club volleyball team’s captains, who begged me to try out because they needed girls who play my position. I wasn’t sure about it, but I figured I owed it to myself to give it a shot. I had my parents ship my court shoes and gear out to Indiana, and from there there was no turning back.
Joining the club volleyball team has undoubtedly been the best decision I’ve made in my college career, for so many reasons. A big one is the health benefit; although I love working out on my own, nothing beats a hard practice playing my favorite sport with the teammates who I love dearly. It’s the best stress reliever, and a perfect amount of commitment to give me a break from my studies without detracting from them. Volleyball is such a dynamic, active sport, and that kind of exercise is so important. Although club is a serious step down from varsity, the competition is very real. My team is at the top of Division 1, and we’re probably better than my high school and club teams were. I guarantee that every girl on my team could have played on a varsity team, but fate brought us together at Notre Dame.
Another way club volleyball has changed my college experience has been through the bonds with my teammates. We all come from different backgrounds and areas of the country, and even from different majors and friend groups at Notre Dame. However, throughout the year, we become so close through the uniting factor of volleyball that we are all each others’ sisters by the end. We have plenty of parties and bonding events with the men’s team, and it culminates at nationals with the men’s team being the loudest people in the convention center, cheering on their Irish women. Overall, we create an amazing community bonded in hard work, dedication, and love for our sport and each other.
Finally, club volleyball has benefited me by giving me the opportunity to have so many new experiences in new places. With my team, I’ve traveled to Berkeley, Milwaukee, Columbus, St. Louis, Ann Arbor, Denver, and more. We were at Nationals this past weekend in Denver, and it was the greatest volleyball travel experience I’ve had. It’s mind-blowing to consider how I thought my volleyball career was over after high school, not knowing that it would continue in the most gratifying way possible. It is a constant reminder that pursuing your passions should always be a priority.