Senior volleyball player Tanya Schmidt (TS) is well known for her prowess on the volleyball court and in the classroom. What some may not realize however is that she is as dedicated to serving her community and helping others as she is to her athletic and academic endeavors. In the midst of double days on the court, santaclarabroncos.com (SCB) talked with Schmidt about the upcoming season, her off the court experiences and her favorite memory from Santa Clara volleyball thus far.
By: Vince Menon
SCB: Your season starts on August 26th with the Seattle University Tournament. The Broncos will play Washington State at 1 pm and then host Seattle later that day at 7 pm. As a team, how are you preparing for this event and what do you hope to accomplish?
TS: We are working very hard in double days to improve our volleyball skills so that we will be ready to compete and win when we don our Bronco jerseys. We are also spending time together off the court to get to know each other better. Through our training and other team bonding activities, we are cohering into a team unit. We are having so much fun! We will be ready to compete against opponents by August 26.
SCB: Last season you played in all 102 sets and received All-WCC First Team honors. You were also honored as the only player from the WCC on the Academic All-American All-District team. What has been the key to balancing academics and athletics for you?
TS: Our coaches are very supportive of the Jesuit philosophy of educating the whole person. They emphasize that we are student-athletes; being a student comes first. I learned how important time management is at my high school (Harker School in San Jose, Calif.), but participating in Division I athletics has helped me solidify study habits. Discipline on the volleyball court can translate also into discipline in the classroom.
SCB: In addition to your academic and athletic endeavors you have been very active in community service. This summer you went on a 12 day immersion trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua, sponsored by the Food and Agribusiness Institute in the Leavey School of Business. What did you take away from the trip and how important is giving back to others?
TS: The Santa Clara education of "competence, conscience, and compassion" strives to expose students to other realities in the world, such as through immersion opportunities. In my experience, the immersions have been enlightening and grounding. I like going on immersion because it helps me keep perspective. Staying with homestay families in Costa Rica and Nicaragua reaffirmed how fortunate I am to compete as an NCAA Division I student-athlete. I want to show my gratitude by giving back and paying it forward.
SCB: You also participated in the fifth-annual Catholic Social Teaching Seminar in New York City last May, after being nominated by Santa Clara President Michael Engh, S.J. What did you think of the event and how did it help you understand yourself better?
TS: I have fond memories of the week-long conference, which overall was a very positive experience. It gave me renewed energy and motivation, and it is already one of my most cherished college memories. Seeing a glimpse into the daily routines of various sitting United Nations Ambassadors was fascinating. I learned a lot from the question and answer sessions with Ambassadors and other global leaders. Equally as valuable to the experience was meeting and interacting with college peers from around the country who are also engaged in dialogue and action for justice. I am very grateful for the opportunity to have represented Santa Clara at this event.
SCB: What are you looking forward to most about this season and what has been your favorite Santa Clara volleyball memory so far?
TS: We have a great lineup of teams this season. I am looking forward to playing at University of Texas in preseason. It will be a very fun environment. I am also excited just to represent Santa Clara in my Bronco volleyball jersey for one final season, with fellow senior Bridget O'Hara. We want to win conference and go far in the NCAA Tournament.
One of my favorite Santa Clara volleyball memories was the delicious feast we had with Lexi Williamson's family in Philadelphia. I laugh every time I remember that hilarious night. Playing the sport of volleyball is already fun, but it is even better when you get to play with and for teammates whom you love and enjoy being around.