By Grace Vickers, Student Assistant
Eat. Sleep. Volleyball. Repeat. This is the life of a Division I collegiate volleyball player during preseason. They arrive on campus before any other students. Their only job is to play volleyball.
As a returning player, this has become routine; almost a part of life. However, everyone has to start somewhere. As a true freshman volleyball player the stakes are high and the pressure is on. Not only are the players and coaches around you new, but so is just about everything else that used to be familiar.
Santa Clara Broncos (SCB) had a chance to catch up with some of the newest faces on the Bronco volleyball court and get their take on one of the most mentally and physically taxing parts of participating in a collegiate sport.
SCB: How do you like living in Santa Clara so far?
Maddie Cannon (Sacramento, Calif): I love living in Santa Clara! The weather is superb, although I spend most of my time in the gym. I've done a little exploring of the town and in general Santa Clara is beautiful so it's a great place to be.
Nikki Hess (Scottsdale, Ariz): Santa Clara is great! I haven't seen too much of the surrounding area but I love the campus and all of the parts that I have seen so far. The weather is also great, especially coming from 100 degree weather!
Taylor Dayton (Honolulu, Hawaii): I absolutely love it here! The campus is beautiful, for sure, but I think my favorite part about living here is that all of my freshmen teammates are right down the hallway so I get to see them all the time.
SCB: Did you always picture yourself playing a Division I sport growing up?
Madison Dutra (Encinitas, Calif.): Yes. I have always wanted to play volleyball in college. I could not imagine it any other way.
Katrina Inch (Boise, Id.): Not really, it had always been a dream of mine, but when I was younger I never really believed such a cool opportunity would actually come true.
Mary Shepherd (Hillsborough, Calif.): Yes, I have always had a dream of playing DI volleyball in college. I have also always had the competitive drive and believed that I am both capable and willing to make the commitment required. I have also known for a very long time that Santa Clara was the right college for me, one of my top choices. So I can say that becoming a member of the Santa Clara D-1 volleyball team is a dream come true for me.
SCB: How are you handling the transition from the speed of high school volleyball to Division I collegiate volleyball?
Chloe Lott (Los Altos, Calif.): I'm handling the transition well. It's a lot faster of a pace of volleyball, but it makes it more fun.
Sabrina Clayton (San Ramon, Calif.): It's a pretty hard transition because everything is so much faster and harder. And you really have to focus on everything you are doing at all times.
Shepherd: It's definitely an intense and challenging experience -- even more so than my very competitive club team that was full of girls who are all playing D-1 volleyball right now. I feel a very close bond with my new Santa Clara teammates. When the going gets tough, I know I am not alone. It's a great feeling to genuinely like and respect my new teammates, and to have coaches that I totally trust.
Dutra: It is a totally different level of play. Everyone is setting the ball faster, serving harder and hitting harder. Everything about it is a change.
Inch: My favorite thing so far is being able to focus solely on volleyball rather than having to juggle it with school. My least favorite thing about preseason is being tired all the time from so many practices.
Hess: My favorite part is how much we are all learning. I love learning new things and I like how there are so many freshman so we are all learning together! My least favorite thing is probably how short our breaks are, but our coaches have been good on giving us some practices off so that definitely makes up for it!
Dutra: My favorite part about the season so far is getting to know all the girls and being with all the freshmen. It's super fun to meet new people and get a hang of the "college life." My least favorite part is having to do sprints after losing in a drill or game.
SCB: What are some things that you all do as a team outside of required practices?
Clayton: We eat some meals together and hang out.
Dutra: We all ice bath and have occasional team dinners. We all eat lunch together also. The freshmen almost always hang out at night in the dorms. We get along super well.
Dayton: We actually had a really nice barbecue at Coach Jon's house a little while ago, and I thought that was a really good way to bond. Besides that, we usually go out to dinner or just hang out around the dorms.
Cannon: Hawaii!! I've never been to Hawaii and I am beyond excited to go play there! I'm looking forward to playing Pepperdine because a girl I've played with since I was 14 is a freshman there this year also.
Dutra: I'm very excited to play USD in San Diego because that is where I'm from and hopefully I can get a lot of hometown support.
Clayton: I'm really excited to play BYU this year because I know a lot of people that go there and the team is really good so the game should be fun.
Dayton: I'm actually really looking forward to our preseason tournament in Hawaii! I'm excited to go home and be in the atmosphere of the Stan Sheriff Center. I always watched great volleyball there when I was little, and now I'm excited that I'm going to be the one on the floor instead of in the stands.
SCB: What are you majoring in? Why did you choose this major? If you are undecided, what is something that you are looking into as a possible major?
Hess: I am majoring in Communication because there are a lot of things you can do with it and communication positions are always important to the U.S. economy.
Lott: I am undecided Arts and Sciences and I am looking into graphic design.
Cannon: I'm an undeclared business major. I'm deciding between being a marketing major or a management of information systems major (MIS), so I plan on taking a few classes that dip into both subjects and then decide.
Shepherd: Currently I plan to major in Communications with a possible focus on Media and Broadcasting. At this early stage, I'd say my dream job would be in sports broadcasting because I love the broadcasting field and I love sports. But I still have a lot of exploring to do in terms of my career and I know Santa Clara will provide me the opportunity to do that.
SCB: What is a goal you have for yourself in the next four years while you are at Santa Clara?
Cannon: Academically my goals are to really push myself in my studies and try to achieve a 3.0 GPA. Athletically my goal is to improve my game as an individual and eventually try and win a starting spot on the court. As a middle I want to be very good at all the tasks my position requires but I also want to better other skills such as passing or setting.
Clayton: A goal I have is to be able to do really well in the classroom and on the volleyball court. I want to be able to manage both of them so I can succeed in both.
Dayton: One of my goals over these next four years at SCU is to positively contribute to the team. Whether I'm on or off the court at that time, I want to constantly dedicate my efforts to making this team successful.
Dutra: I really want to take full advantage of how amazing the school is. One of my goals is to win conference. I want to work my hardest at every practice and also in the classroom. I'm very excited for my next four years as a Bronco.
Hess: One of my personal goals is to become a better volleyball player and compete at the highest of my ability.
Inch: My goal is to balance my academics and volleyball so that I can be successful in both.
Lott: My goal is to figure out what I want to be when I am out of college.
Shepherd: As a driven student- athlete, first and foremost I want to help my team win -- to win our conference, and compete successfully in the NCAA tournament. Meanwhile, my broader goals in college are to continue to grow into the best possible person I can be -- athletically, academically and as a member of a Christian community. I also hope to make lasting friendships that will enrich my life and bring out the best in me. I can already tell that my volleyball experience with Santa Clara's coaching staff and my teammates will provide me every opportunity to achieve these goals.