Here’s What’s Next

Much to my dismay, I have officially finished my Penn State undergraduate career. We actually just had our end of the year banquet a few weekends ago. It was great to see everyone and say my final thank you and goodbye to the boosters and the program. This obviously isn’t a forever-in-parting goodbye, you guys couldn’t keep me away from here if you tried. It was more of a see you soon. It has been an incredible four years, but it is time to take the next step. What exactly is that, you may ask. Well here’s what’s next:

Lucky enough for me I get to spend a little bit more time in Happy Valley (told ya you couldn’t keep me away)! I’ll be training, playing volleyball, working out, and working! I just recently got a job in the Rec Hall equipment room so if you’re ever in the neighborhood please feel free to come say hello. On top of volleyball and work life, I’m also working on some writing for grad school, the studying never stops.

Unfortunately, I do at some point have to leave and it’s looking like March 1st I’ll be headed to the Philippines! I just recently negotiated a contract with a team over there so it’s just about official! I’m looking to sign sometime this week! I’m very excited and incredibly blessed to have an opportunity like this and I couldn’t have done it without the efforts of my agency, Top Volley. I am incredibly fortunate to have people in my life that can help me navigate the professional world of volelyball. Them knowing what they’re doing is such a blessing because I – like most people in life – don’t. ((Learning though!))
I’ll be in the Philippines from March until about mid-June. Then I’ll be back in the states gearing up for the next season! I’m very excited for what the future holds and can’t wait to see what adventures I’ll be going on. But it’s not just me that’s taking grand new steps. We had seven other great girls and athletes graduate this past semester who are all moving on to their next chapter, so here’s what they’re up to!

 

Clare is back in California for now living it up with her big beautiful fam! Rumor has it she’s picked up a coaching gig for a high school men’s team. She also graduated with a degree in print journalism and is a fantastic writer so I’m sure we’ll see her writing for Sports Illustrated, Cosmo, or The New York Times here very soon.

Heidi is temporarily waiting to put her angel wings on, unless Victoria’s Secret wants to give her a sponsorship while she’s overseas because she’s looking at going pro! She recently signed with an agent and is looking to make her way over there very soon.

If you hadn’t heard at the banquet, our own Abby D. got a job in Austria!!! She gets to pursue volleyball overseas now as well and just recently left to start her adventure!

Simone left for Italy about a week ago and is going to play for one of the premier leagues over there! It’s incredibly exciting and a great opportunity for her and I know she’s thrilled! Wishing her the best of luck!

Ali is also looking to play overseas and has had an offer or two come her way. Just like most Penn State grads, her future is bright and she’s definitely going to play volleyball for as long as she can!

Jen is still around in Happy Valley finishing out her undergraduate career. Lucky enough she’s only taking 15 credits this semester not 21, so she’s got smooth sailing up ahead. Once she’s done here she’s looking at grad school and a potential research gig in Manhattan over the summer!

Lainy just recently accepted a job offer in Philly!! Look at her joining the real world like a grown up. Her little brother plays for the men’s team here though, so she’ll be back visiting Happy Valley soon!

Nia didn’t technically graduate because of her redshirt but she’s a part of our class so she deserves an update too. She’s going into her last year at Penn State and naturally living her best life. She’ll train in the spring, have camps in the summer, and go into her final season as a Nittany Lion this fall.

Bryanna also didn’t graduate and has a redshirt year too, but she’s definitely living her best life. She’s taking maybe 15 credits this semester (if that) and next semester only taking one class. It’s called thriving people.

 

So here we are. Graduated and ready to take on the world. Penn State has shaped us and given us the tools necessary to do big things. While we’re out in the real world, I hope our actions reflect those of mature and well-rounded Penn State graduates. We can’t wait to go out and explore the world and enjoy new adventures. So here’s to the next big thing people, cheers!

 

|| Be sure to come back next week for my blog post on what it’s like to play for Russ Rose entitled South Gym Soldiers. Xoxo ||
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Baby Bye, Bye, Bye

Ho-ho-hoooooly shitake mushrooms goodbyes suck. They’re the one thing in life that has never gotten easier for me. They have remained consistently suck-o. I used to think I was pretty good at them too; that I could just say goodbye and rip ties like a band-aid: quick, easy, painless. Sometimes that’s still the case. When I say goodbye to people I’m not too upset about leaving or people I know I’ll see in the very near future I don’t get too heartbroken about it. But when the future is unclear or I’m saying goodbye to my parents/family, holy munchkin-eating-cupcake-flargenbog those goodbyes suck.

My dad just left. That’s what’s prompting this writing and for some reason this year’s goodbyes with the family have been painfully hard every single time, especially this last one with my dad (making me cry like some soap opera protagonist… jerk). Maybe it’s the nostalgia of senior year that makes it so hard or getting to enjoy these moment with people I love that turn me into a blubbering idiot. Whatever the reason, the goodbyes SUCK and hurt a lot.

Ironically enough, during this last visit, my dad and I were reminiscing about our “first” goodbye my freshman year. They were dropping me off at college for the first time and it was a bit chaotic. We were unloading the car, we’d been driving all day, we had no idea what we were doing or where we were going, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria type stuff. Eventually I got unpacked and as soon as that was done, my roommate and I had to rush and get our ID’s. My family needed to get back on the road so we started saying our goodbyes. My siblings cried a little, my mom cried a lot, my dad got a little teary-eyed and so did I but it was overall not the emotional goodbye one would imagine accompanies college freshman farewells. There was too much going, not enough time to reflect on the moment. This just felt like another part of the process. We said our goodbyes, they were on the road, and that was that.

Nowadays I wish goodbyes were that easy. Now, like I said, goodbyes SUCK. They leave you – more importantly me – feeling all achey and broken inside. Saying goodbye to mom SUCK-O, saying goodbye to my dad SUCK-O, goodbye to siblings SUCK-O, goodbye to Penn State Volleyball SUCK-O, saying goodbye to my friends from mikepikebike at the end of last semester SUCK-O. It’s just not something I’m good at and I don’t think it’s a skill someone – more specifically I – will ever get good at.

MAJOR SUCK-O!!!!

In the grand scheme of things, however, I count those goodbyes as a blessing. Goodbyes only hurt when they have meaning behind them and the fact that I have people that I love so much and that love me back is something I am incredibly fortunate to have. It’s what makes those goodbyes so suck-o. So much so that saying goodbye – even when we know we’ll see each other again – is pretty torturous. Nevertheless, that love is why when the goodbyes make me cry and my heart is aching and breaking, the pain doesn’t linger too long. I know feeling that pain means before I was feeling a lot of love and to have love like that in your life is a blessing and not to be taken for granted. So goodbyes may suck, big time, and I’ll probably never get good at them, but love like that’s gotta count for something.

“With a love like that, you know you should be glad.” – The Beatles, She Loves You

Dear Penn State,

Thank you. I’m writing this to you as an official alumni which means I’m writing with a perspective that comes from an ending. I’ve officially finished my four years of undergrad and what a privilege it’s been. Very few people are given the opportunity to go to college, let alone go on a full ride scholarship, so for that I am forever grateful and beyond blessed. Because of this, I want to open up my thank yous to the man who made this journey possible.

To Coach,
Thank you for seeing greatness in me and for not being satisfied until I had achieved it. Your program, the one you built from the ground up, has shaped me into the woman I am today. You have taught me to battle through my hardest days and that anything worth working for will never be achieved easily. Thank you for giving me the chance to not only pursue volleyball at an elite level, but also to pursue an education at an elite level. You have afforded me opportunities I would otherwise not have had access to. For that I am forever grateful.

To Lori,
Thank you for always believing in me and for teaching me to believe in and trust myself. You have helped shape me into the confident young woman I am. I pray that the life lessons of trusting my body and soul stay with me forever. You have changed my life and I am so blessed that you were apart of it.

To The Anthony Family,
I am so fortunate to have met you all this year! You are such wonderful people with such kind hearts and I am so glad I got to be part of your lives. Abby, it was great meeting you and having your support at all our games. I’m so honored to have had you cheering for me and the team! I wish you the best of luck in your future! Ms. Shannon, thank you for reaching out to men and for your continued support as well. It has been a blessing knowing you all.

To George and Kay,
Thank you for being my King and Duchess these four years. You have been a blessing and one of my most treasured relationships coming out of Penn State. You were my home away from home and win or lose (though preferably win) you were always there to give me a hug and some love. Thank you for all the support while I was here. I am beyond blessed to have gotten to know you both.

And last but not least,

To Brooklyn,
Thank you so much for being my number one fan and best friend. I loved having you in the stands and it has been absolutely amazing getting to know you and watch you grow! Thank you so much for the Christmas wishes and for everything you did to support me and the team this year. I wish you a future full of happiness and hopefully lots of volleyball 🙂

 

If I didn’t directly mention you please don’t take it as any slight against you. I have been impacted by hundreds of people during my time here: our pep band, the booster club, boujee beats, mike pike bike, etc. You have all changed my life for the better and for that I am eternally grateful.

Penn State thank you for shaping me into the woman I am today. While I may look back on my time with you and see just as many lows – if not more – as there are highs, there is no denying that you have left your mark on me forever. Thank you for giving me the tools to conquer the world. May my life but swell thy fame.

With All My Heart Dear Old State
We Are,

Haleigh Washington

Not Another Athlete Blog

I realize that blogs like mine are a dime a dozen. It’s really easy to look up college athletes that have graduated and are now sharing their stories. They’re all mostly recaps about their adventures and advice on overseas professional volleyball.

So what makes mine special?

Honestly, nothing.

I’m just another college (graduate) athlete blogger. But that doesn’t mean that my stories aren’t worth sharing, right? I’ve been blessed to connect with lots of people during my 22 years and even if they only skim read what I write, to still be able to communicate with them means a lot to me.

I suppose I don’t need to justify my blog to anyone that’s reading it, maybe I just wrote this to put myself at ease. My words may not be all that unique or special, but to get to share my story with people I’ve come to love is a significant enough reason for me.

So here goes, another college athlete graduate blog. Hope it’s titillating.

||| “In the macro sense, no. You’re one Cheerio in the bulk box of life. But, you f***in’ tickle me, so I think it would matter.” ~ Nicky, Orange is the New Black |||