As a Division 1 athlete at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., I play volleyball—a  sport I first picked up when I was 9 years old. At that time in my youth sports, I also had the  opportunity to play soccer, softball, tennis, and basketball. The goal then was to keep me active,  out of trouble, and happy.  

My philosophy has always been to be a good teammate and try my best. As a young person, I  was learning much more about the intrinsic value of sports as opposed to physical skills. As  high school approached, I was encouraged to specialize in one sport. At that moment, it came  down to soccer or volleyball. This was a huge decision because I knew complete dedication  would be required. I also knew I wanted to play collegiately so my journey felt like it was just  beginning. 

I chose volleyball. I loved the girls I played with, and the sport felt more aligned with my natural  skills. I tried to play other sports in high school, but it proved to be very difficult with the time  commitment of year-round volleyball. Every year closer to college volleyball was increasingly  focused and intense. The magnitude of the collegiate opportunity weighed heavy on me both  mentally and physically. Volleyball impacted my confidence, demeanor, and attitude toward the  world around me more than ever before. Those feelings were compounded as a successful  (albeit stressed) collegiate player. Compartmentalizing these feelings was a skill I didn’t know I  needed.  

I recently rediscovered my passion for volleyball by taking up a comparatively new  sport—tennis. I was fortunate to have lessons this summer from Team Connection’s founder  and President Herb Bolick—a former teaching pro and collegiate tennis coach. It was great. I  was learning new things and getting better quickly. I saw correlations to volleyball, but it still felt  completely new. There were no expectations and comparisons. It felt freeing to play and  exercise without pressure. I would even laugh and ask questions which I regret to say I had  avoided doing as much on the volleyball court. In short, I rediscovered my love of  sports—particularly volleyball–again. 

Enjoying the intrinsic benefits of athletics—positive feelings, stress reduction, and good health also helps you play to your full potential. I’m excited for the new athlete I’ve created—one who  plays freely and from the heart. I want to always remember the meaning of sport and play for  that. Team Connection’s motto is sport fuels life. I am proof positive of this wisdom. Tennis was  a wake-up call for my volleyball career to remember my “why” and stay eager to learn. I hope  others will take the leap to try something new in sports and rediscover their athletic spark!