What’d We Learn

Part 1. Intro

Growing up playing volleyball, my dad was a HUGE influence on the values that I developed within the world of sports. He instilled within me a love of the game, pride, integrity, and passion. One of the best skills he ever taught me was a desire to search for the lessons in any loss. Any time I played poorly or my team lost, my dad would have me ask myself what I had learned. What could I take away from that loss? What did I learn about myself, my play, my team and what could I do differently in order to improve my game.  This post competition reflection is something I’ve held on to throughout the course of my career and it’s something I still do to this day. Not only that, but it’s a skill that’s transformed into a post-match state of reflection regardless of the outcome. Winning or losing doesn’t matter, there’s always a lesson to be learned.

Now, this reflection isn’t something I spend hours on. It’s maybe 5-10 minutes after every match where I think about 2-3 big things I want to focus on in the next few days of training in order to improve my game. This habit is one that I rely heavily on within my career and I hope it’s a skill other young athletes are learning to cultivate as well.

Keeping this hope in mind, I want to start sharing what it is I learn after every match in order to achieve two goals. One, I want/hope other athletes can learn something from the lessons I learn because they can relate to the struggle/situation/grind. And two, it can help other athletes cultivate a positive and healthy habit of reflection. It’s basically an “I-do-something-stupid-and-you-can-learn-from-my-stupidity-if-you’d-like” type deal!

Taking time to stop and quickly review your play post competition develops strong mental habits, cleaner more disciplined play, and a growth mindset attitude. All great skills to have as an athlete! I hope this is something younger athletes, especially, can take to heart and use to help develop their game. Great day to have a day, what can we take away from it!


Part 2. What’d We Learn: Caserta

I went into the Caserta game with two things in mind. I wanted to have a loaded blocking position when I was in “base” which means at the start of every rally when my team was serving I wanted to be totally still with my knees slightly bent in a loaded position and my hands hips width apart at the base of the net, ready to fly over the net. This would enable me to react to the middle attack more efficiently and be ready to read the setter and react to my read quickly as well. I also I wanted to focus on my mental routine from the service line. I.e. having a good breath in my service routine, keeping my one-liner (a thought that I think to myself before every serve to give me confidence. I switch between “good hand contact, here” and “let’s blow ’em up”) in mind, and maintaining a flat and clean serve.

We ended up winning the match 3-1 and I wasn’t completely enthralled with my performance, but I had kept my focuses in mind. My blocking focus went really well and my mental game from the service line got some practice. The key lessons that I learned were these three things.

One, proper body prep before a match is key. In this case, a good full 8 hours of sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep helps me feel my best and is something I need to make sure I have the night before a match. The night before this match I got around 6.5 hours a sleep and I could feel the difference. I wasn’t exhausted, but I certainly felt a more tired than usual!

Two, slow to fast footwork when attacking in front of the setter is crucial. There were a few times during the match where my setter and I didn’t connect all that well. Those misconnects could be remedied if I can be sure to maintain a slow first step or two and then have an explosive third and fourth step before I jump in order to explode off the ground and create a good window for my setter to set the ball too.

Third and finally, that serve routine works really well for me, but I need to make sure I take a breath! Taking a breath gives me a moment to collect my thoughts, not rush to my serve, and help me get mentally prepped to put forth my best serve in that moment. That deep breath goes a long way!

So moving forward this week in practice, I want to be sure that I’m getting a good night’s sleep, that I am going sloowwwww to fast during attacking reps with my setter, and that I really focus on adding that breath to my service routine.

Looking forward to another good week of work before our next match against Bergamo! Let’s get after it!!!



I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while now because it seems like this has been the epitome of what 2018 has been for me. Transitioning from college to post-grad life, transitioning from life in the states to life abroad, transitioning from college volleyball to Olympic/International volleyball. The year of 2018, for me, has been a year of transitions.


“Haleigh! You need to get off the net.” Russ would shout at me as a freshman, “You need to be up an available in transition.” In volleyball, the transition part of the game is the few split seconds between defense and offense where you’re prepping for the next phase of play. Usually for the middle blocker that means you’ve just landed after a block and now you’re busting tail to get behind the 3 meter line, getting your feet right for your approach, finding where the ball is, timing your approach to where the ball is, then maybe (although it’s unlikely #middlelife) getting set and attacking the ball. A lot goes on in these very few seconds and any hesitation on your part affects your ability to be as effective and efficient as possible. What’s important is that you trust your body, your teammates, and your knowledge of the game and then Go.

In life, the transition game is similar. It occurs, just like in volleyball, in between phases. You’re not quite in one stage or the other but you’re on your way there. What’s important is that you’re making the right moves in that phase to be as effective as possible in your next phase. Transitioning from college volleyball to Olympic/International volleyball this summer is a good example of one such moment. The game at the international level is so much faster. Not to mention, at this level it’s not just about beating the block. You also have to hit the ball hard enough to beat the defense, most of whom are great defenders. The point is, the game is different and tougher. It’s difficult to adjust to.

That transition was tough. It was a transition that lasted a long time and honestly might still be going on. Right now, I’m figuring out how to get off the net and be up for the next phase of play both literally and metaphorically. It’s choppy and most of the time I’m late and Russ is probably yelling at me for not getting of the net in time, but it’s coming along. The transition to international volleyball is coming along and I’m slowly but surely figuring it out.

Transitioning to life outside of Penn State is another story. Four years is a long time to spend anywhere. The fact that these past four years were apart of my developing into an adult phase of life made them all the more influential. So transitioning to life outside of Penn State has come with its own level of discomfort. The biggest missing characteristic is routine. At school, every day had a structure. There was a class schedule, practice and game schedule, meetings, rehab, etc. All things that made one’s day very structured. Life outside of that lacks structure. Life outside of Penn State is basically silly putty when compared to the Lego Block structure that is life in college. But just like one can create something out of lego blocks, it’s pretty impressive what can come from silly putty. Horrible metaphor, but the point that’s being made is, without structure there’s a lot of room to create WHATEVER it is one wants to create.

Routines now become wholly one’s own. There’s no need to schedule around classes or office hours anymore. The day is yours. Sure, there’s still the “work” factor (can you count volleyball practice as work), but even that leaves you with hours of the day that are completely your own. Transitioning into life after college has been about finding a new routine. Creating structures within the lack of structure your life now has. This transition leads to a phase of incredibly liberating autonomy.

Transitions are still hard though. They’re the toughest phase of the game in volleyball and often require the most unseen work. People rarely understand how much effort goes into the transition phase. But such is life. People rarely recognize the work, they just see what comes from it. What’s important is that when you’re transitioning, you trust your body, you trust the people you’ve surrounded yourself with and you take the necessary steps to ensure the next phase in life can/will come as smoothly as possible. It’s not going to be easy, but whether it’s volleyball or life transitions rarely are.


I’m Going to Be the Best

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.” – Muhammad Ali

I’m Going to Be the Best.

Top ten phrases that are sooooo much easier said than done. But, decision made. I decided it about a week ago actually after reflecting on how, at practice that day, I knew had gotten better. There I was, stretching my hamstrings sweaty and sticky and gross and I thought to myself in a very matter of fact way, “huh, there’s a chance I could be the best.” I thought about it more, reflected on what the heck that meant and where the heck that idea came from, and here’s what I came up with….

First and foremost, that statement in no way shape or form means I am going to be the best volleyball player of all time.

I felt the need to emphasize that because that first paragraph makes me sound so cocky. To be the best volleyball player of all time? That’s laughable. I probably won’t even be the best middle in my age group. What I will be though is the best Me. I think I’ve said this before, but this is a goal I want to pursue and one of the reasons I decided to play volleyball internationally. I want to pursue the best most elite version of my volleyball skill and see what that looks like. At the end of my career I want to be able to look back and know that I did everything within my power to be my best. In the USA gym they called that “Pursuing Mastery” and I love that phrase. That’s the journey I’m on. I want to master this skill.

The second realization I came to is I can achieve this because this is something I enjoy working towards. Working, being the key word. Being the Best doesn’t mean that I’m going to say that and then it’s going to happen. It means that I’m going to put in hours of work, get beat by people way better than me, and sacrifice a lot and I mean A LOT. I’m going to miss out on friend’s weddings, family vacations, holidays, birthdays, graduations, even my own wedding and kiddos will have to wait because this is my goal right now. This is my priority.

That being said, I love the work. I love the grind. Some days are miserable, yes, and I feel like I’m not getting better. But those days can’t hold me back. Every trial is a step closer to being the best and that’s what I want. That’s what makes this worth it.

The third and final realization is that Being the Best Me is really easy to say, but goals wise it’s a very vague description. If this is something I seriously want to pursue there’s a chance I may need to specify what that is going to look like. Does it mean having a super healthy body (bahahahahahaha)? Does it mean hitting .400 every game? Does it mean averaging 3 blocks a set? Whatever I decide it looks like, the pathway remains the same. It means hard work, sacrifice, frustration, heartbreak, lots and lots and lots of failure, but hopefully at the end of it, it means a tiny bit of success. Just enough to solidify the idea that I Am The Best.

Life Update!

Longggggggggggggg Read – sorry ‘bout it

Holy cow! It’s August already! I haven’t written a single blog post allllllllllll summer and so much has happened. I mean, wow what a summer.

For starters, I finished my season in Italy and it was such a great experience. I learned so much while I was there – posted a whole blog about it in fact – and had my first taste of international volleyball. After leaving Italy I was given the incredible opportunity to get a little bit of training in the USA gym in Anaheim, California! So a few days after getting back to the States, I flew out to CA and trained with the girls in the gym there. Ok not girls, women and WOW are they some incredible women! All striving to master their craft and all genuine people with unique personalities. They push one another, including me, to be better every day while at the same time learning and growing as athletes themselves. It’s been an incredible thing to be a part of.

About 3 weeks into my training in CA, USA took a roster of 14 girls around the globe for VNL, an international tournament in its introductory year. For seven weeks the girls toured the world, faced adversity, and kicked some serious ass. Meanwhile, I got the chance to stay in the gym and train with a new group of girls who would try and earn a roster spot on the Pan American Cup travel roster. For my Penn State peeps out there, you might’ve recognized players like Simone Lee and Aiyana Whitney who, like me, were training to earn a roster spot. Penn State Alum and Living Legend Badass Alisha Glass was also in the gym, this time wearing Red, White and Blue as a coach!

It was an intense seven weeks of training for us filled with highs, lows, frustrations, victories, lessons, and failures. But at the end of it all, fourteen of us were selected to travel to the Dominican Republic to represent USA at the Pan American Cup. If you didn’t know, Simone, Aiyana, and myself were all blessed with the opportunity to travel. So away we went. We flew to the Dominican Republic, played 6 well fought games, and came home with a Gold medal after a GRUELING, fiercely competitive, well fought match against a very strong Dominican team in a very LOUD Dominican gym.

Now, after a little vacation home, I’m back in the USA gym for one more training block before my professional season. Simone and Aiy will be there too! It’s another incredible opportunity to train and learn in a fiercely competitive gym. Then, towards the middle of September, USA will send another fourteen or so girls to World Championships where they will compete again for another Gold Medal.

Looking ahead! I’m headed back to Italy next season! I signed a contract with an A1 team in Brescia, Italy called Millennium Brescia volleyball club for my first FULL season in Italy! Whew intimidating to think about, but the adventure continues!

As far as the other girls from the Penn State class of 2018:

Ali Frantti: Finished out her first professional stint in Slovenia and signed another contract with a team in France for her first full season! Pomplemousse is headed to France!

Simone Lee: Will train in the USA gym some more this summer and then is headed to Turkey for her first full professional season! There she’ll play alongside Kelly Hunter from Nebraska and Annie Drews from Purdue.

Clare Powers: Recently got a job as a GA coaching volleyball in Texas while also pursuing her master’s in interdisciplinary studies with emphasizes in English, Sports Management, and Education! Plus she’s dating the cutest ginger around.

Heidi Thelen: Is beaching it up and also living in California where she works for the elite athletic equipment distributor, HyperIce.

Lainy Pierce: Is still working in PA and makes her way back to Penn State every once in awhile. Be sure to say hi if you ever get the chance to see her!

Abby Detering: Will also be playing professionally again next season! She’s headed to France too after kicking some major booty in her league in Austria. Rumor has it she played outside, opposite, and setter all in the short time she was there.

Nia Reed: Has one more season at Penn State and is just now starting preseason. Thoughts and prayers to you booboo…She’s most likely still tearing it up though like the walking tank she is.

Bryanna Weiskircher: Is also still kicking it at Penn State where she’ll be finishing out her final season as well. She too is starting preseason, RIP bro….. my heart goes out to you.

And that’s everyone! Look at us, we’re doing it! All off on our own grand adventures, living life. Hope everyone is doing so so great and enjoying their summers!

For the future, I plan on posting a little bit more frequently (no promises though). Dare I say even once a week. Gasp, I know I’ll believe it when I see it too… So, stay tuned! For those of you still with me after this lonngggg post thanks for hanging in there. Until next time!

We Are
Among yoU
and all that jazz

The Learning Curve

((Long Read))

Sooooooooooo I had a terrible day. Not just a bad day hitting or couldn’t figure out a block move. Nope, a complete-and-total-no-good-rotten-terrible day. Everything was bad. My serve, terrible. My eye work, slow. Block moves, late. Attacking, soft. Mentality, tried to bounce back buttttttt to no avail. It was just an all around terrible day. The good news is, I think, I THINK this is just a part of the learning curve.

My interpretation of the learning curve goes as such:

  • There’s a skill you acquire. That’s step one.
  • Step two is trying to use the new skill. It feels awkward and uncomfortable, you’re aware that you’re trying something new because your body can tell that it isn’t doing what it’s used to.
  • Step three is kind of getting the hang of it. You’re realizing “Oh this is when I should do that” or “That felt great! I figured it out!” Your body is slowly, but surely getting the hang of it.
  • Step four, and this is where I’m at now, is failing miserably at it once again. This is a critical step because it’s in this step that the skill becomes cemented. Your body knows the skill now and can tell when you’re NOT doing it. You get caught up more because you’re more aware when you aren’t doing it.
  • Step five is having figured out the skill and continuing to develop it through hours and hours of repetition and hard work
  • Finally, that’s it. There’s no end step because we can always continue to learn and grow… but I digress, that’s a topic for another day….

Step Four is an important part of the process. Being able to realize when you aren’t doing the skill you’re trying to improve is critical for the development of said skill. What’s even more important and will eventually lead to the fifth and final step of the learning curve is to stay locked in on building the new habit. Don’t get discouraged! Continue to work on the skill.

Applying this thought process to what happened to me today shows that I am working on every skill in my volleyball arsenal. Hitting: the speed is fast, the transition footwork is different, the arm swing needs to be crisper. Blocking: the eye work has to be disciplined, the footwork has to be explosive, my arms need to be locked in and over. Etc.

I could break down every single one of the skills that I’m working on, but you get the idea. EVERY aspect of my game is being deconstructed and reconstructed which means when I get to Step Four, nothing is going to go according to plan. It’s inevitable that I’m going to have a day like today where everything feels off. That’s because everything is off. The key is making sure I attack tomorrow and STOP COMPARING MYSELF TO OTHER PLAYERS. Everybody is at a different spot on the learning curve. We’re all trying to grow and improve our game.

So, what I’m going through right now is just as much a lesson in volleyball as it is a lesson in patience. Everything will come with time. The athlete I want to be won’t come to fruition overnight. Moving forward, I’ll be taking things step by step, staying patient, and continuing to work as hard as I possibly can everyday to get better. I’m right where I need to be. Let’s keep grinding.

To the Haleigh that first arrived in Italy,


Benvenuto, you made it! First things first, take a deep breath. Traveling across the world can be stressful so I know you’re freaking out. Right now, what you’re doing seems like the biggest life change you’ve ever experienced. I mean, nobody speaks the same language as you, you’ve never played volleyball overseas before, you’re all by yourself, and everyone you know and love are thousands of miles away. It feels like you’re jumping off of an eighty-foot cliff right now but trust me this is just a small eight-inch step.

Unfortunately, this time around your visit in Italy is short. There was a chance you could’ve stayed up until the end of May, but you and your team missed the playoff by one or two points. That’s ok though, it’s a part of the process. What’s important is what you take from this experience and how much you get to grow as person.

While you’re here you are going to experience a lot. For starters, homesickness. You are all by yourself over here so there are days where you really miss home. Sometimes it isn’t even Colorado home. Some days you miss being at the Phyrst with your friends jamming out to “I Want You Back”. Sometimes you just really want a hug from bae or a lazy Sunday binge watching The Office together. Whatever the feeling is, it’s totally fine. There are ways you can shake it! Get coffee downtown, hang out with Chiara and DoDo, go to the beach, drink a whole bottle of wine… ok maybe not that last one, but you get the idea. Then there are days where no matter what you do you just miss home. When this is the case, call your parents. They always make time to talk to you and it’s crazy how much better you feel after talking with them. Homesickness sucks, but you’ll be fine.

Keep in mind, you weren’t even gone that long! It’s been two months. I know it may feel like an eternity because SOOOO much has changed, but you’re only here for a short short time so don’t waste it wallowing. Read your books on your patio, go sketch on the beach, get sushi with your friends, live and enjoy life here because it’s over before you know it.

Something else you should know, you’re not going to become fluent in Italian. No matter how hard you try, you are not going to pick up conversational Italian in two months. Not only that, but when you do try to speak Italian you are going to say something stupid. You will end up calling your libero a midget on accident, you’ll refer to your father as the pope, and instead of asking how old someone is you’ll ask them how many anuses they have. Such is learning a new language. The pronunciation and grammar are going to eat you alive, but it’s important that you keep trying! Better to make the mistake and fix it, then never try at all and learn nothing.

The most important thing you need to take from your experience here is this is life now: new adventures, new opportunities to learn and grow, new chances to get to know and love yourself more. Not only that, but this is just the beginning. Wherever this career takes you as a professional volleyball player, enjoy the journey and remember you are in control. You can keep going for as long as you want, you can quit whenever you want, you can go back to school, you can start coaching, you can keep playing until you’re 40 years old. Whatever you decide to do, do so whole heartedly. If you’re going to quit, make sure it isn’t because you had a bad day. You’re only really a failure when you stop trying to improve. If you’re going to keep playing, make sure you’re working as hard as you can. You know what that looks like. In the wise words of Ron Swanson, don’t half-ass a bunch of things whole-ass one thing. Make sure whatever you do in the future you whole-ass it.

So, Haleigh that just got to Italy, enjoy your adventure in Ravenna. It’s a beautiful city. You will cry when you see Dante’s tomb for the first time, you’ll cry when you say goodbye to the Adriatic Sea, you’ll cry when you see the Basilica di San Vitale. You will also laugh your ass off with Chiara and DoDo on multiple occasions, you’ll dance on table tops, and you’ll make memories you will never forget. Adventure is out there so enjoy this one.

The Mental Game

My roommate pointed out to me the other day that I am always thinking. Whether we’re sitting at the table eating, driving to lift, or just stretching after practice, she noticed there was always something on my mind. Now this trait has its highs and lows. I overthink a lot, but it’s easy for me to critically analyze any given situation. For me, thinking is a way of life. For all athletes, thinking is a huge part of the game.

In sport, there’s a time and a place for thinking, most people refer to it as their mental game. There are tons of sport psychology books on the subject. People pour a lot of research and resources into figuring out what makes the athletic mind tick. But the thing is, we are all very different. Our mental game is uniquely formatted to our own individual selves. The way LeBron James preps for a game is very different than how Foluke Akinradewo would prep. What’s important though, is that the mental prep is happening. My time at Penn State helped me to cultivate my own mental prep routine. It was done mostly through trial and error, but I eventually figured out what was necessary for me to get in the groove to be ready to play. What’s important now is making sure I’m following through with this routine.

This past week we played two games. One on the road and one at home. The road game was a beast of a trip. It took about 5 hours to get to the gym. The vans we took were tiny with very upright seats, so it isn’t the most comfortable form of travel. To pass the time I listened to music, watched the Italian landscape roll by (gorgeous btw), and watched a movie. It was a long drive. When we finally got to the gym we were early, so we ended up having to sit around and wait for game time.

Now, after being cooped up in a van all day I’m not going to deny I was grumpy. Every little thing was getting on my nerves. By the time we were warming up for the game, my mood hadn’t improved, and I had a tough time getting my muscles warm. Game time rolled around, and I played TERRIBLE. It only took me 5 points into the first set to realize, I wasn’t mentally there for that game. I hadn’t done a mental prep, I wasn’t focused or ready to compete and it was catching up with me. I managed to get somewhat locked into the game by the second set, but by then I was so concentrated on being mentally locked in I started overthinking. I worked as hard as I could physically, but my draw backs mentally took their toll.

The following Wednesday we had a home game. I was determined to be mentally focused and ready to play. A few hours before the match, I did the mental exercises that get me ready to play and put on my warm up playlist. We drove to the gym and I stayed focus all through warmups. Doing whatever I could to be ready to play. Game time rolled around and while this game had a bit of a rough start, it was much easier to find my groove and play my game. I was mentally and physically ready to play.

What this experience has taught me, is that there is never an occasion where I can just roll into a game. Just like I warm-up my muscles before a match, I need to warm-up my mind. There’s a level of mental focus required to be a successful and competitive athlete. I worked hard on creating a unique routine that allows me to be mentally locked-in to the game, I owe it to myself to be following it. I should be playing back highlight reels that get me excited to play the game I love. I need to listen to my pump-up playlist to get my adrenaline going. I absolutely need to make sure I know the scouting report. Concentrating on the little things before a match makes it easier to just go out and play.

Everyone is different, so their routine will be unique to them, nevertheless there’s no denying that mental prep is needed. Figure out what that means for you. Zac Efron said it best, ya gotta getcha head in the game.

If you’re feeling up to it, let me know what your mental routine is before you go out and conquer the world! I’m always looking for new ideas and would love to read your comments!

Healthy Habits

As athletes, we’re constantly reminded the importance of nutrition, hydration, sleep, etc. It’s ingrained into our lifestyle to try and be as healthy as we can to improve our performance. We’re lectured on calorie intake, when to eat, the importance of sugars, carbohydrates, and protein. We’re taught that it’s important to drink water every day and stay hydrated. Plus, we’re constantly reminded that sleep is the best way to recover faster. Through all this reminding, we begin to build this image of what it is we want to look like once all is said done. Soon fit, sexy, and strong athletes will look back at us in the mirror. From then on, it’ll just be about maintaining that physique. Sounds easy enough. News flash, it never is.

For myself, throughout this whole process of becoming beautiful and better lingering in the back of my mind is this tiny fear that if I stray from the path all is lost. When I slip up, I set myself too far back. That extra slice of cake or missed day at the gym is going to cost me what it is I want to see from myself. In these moments, it becomes all too easy to beat myself up. I get incredibly frustrated and feel like I’ll never achieve the body it is that I want and there’s no point in trying. News flash number two, I gotta chill out.

As I too strive to be the best athlete I can be, I’m learning that the best way to ensure that I’m adhering to my health habits is to cut myself a break. When I opt to eat a rice cake with Nutella on it instead of honey, I can’t go nuts over the extra 10g of sugar. If I miss going to the gym for a day, I shouldn’t mope around at home. Instead, I should stretch a little and set a reminder to get my butt there tomorrow. On the path to creating healthy habits I’m realizing there is no flawless journey. Everyone is going to slip up. The key is to allow the slip up to happen, forgive yourself, and improve.

Now, there’s a beautiful equilibrium in life where all things require some balance. In this instance I find myself balancing self-discipline and self-compassion. While I’m chasing healthy habits, I can’t cut myself too much of a break. I should, of course, be focused on what it is I want to achieve and be committed to the habits I want to form. I set goals for myself, both long term and short term. I do what I can to make it easier to achieve said goals. For example, I try to avoid buying junk food and sugary drinks. But, I also need to remember to be compassionate enough to realize that I’m only human and chocolate cake is too damn good to pass up. That’s ok. Healthy habits, like diet, sleep, and hydration, pair nicely with self-love. If I can focus enough on achieving my health goals while also loving myself throughout the entire process it becomes a lot easier to get to where I’m trying to go.

In all, whether you’re like me and want to build muscle mass or just want to start drinking more water daily, the fact that you have made a conscious decision to improve your life in a healthy way is a huge step. Go for it! But don’t get too upset as you work to develop this new routine. Building a habit comes with time and with time comes error. But the good news is, with error comes growth. So, work to build those habits. Set goals for yourself. Celebrate when you achieve them. Be patient with the journey and revel in it all, the slips-ups and the success. Such is life.

Also, today’s featured image is brought to you by me trying sushi for the first time. An excellent balance between what I perceive to be healthy and what is probably not the most healthy but could be worse.


Ciao Mi Amici,

Well I guess the cat is somewhat out of the bad. Hello from Italy everybody!!

Before I begin I wanted to very quickly explain my hiatus and why I haven’t been writing much… ok at all… When I started this blog, my intended goal was to share a post every week. I was super excited about it and had lots to share. I still do! But, as my “deadline” started approaching I found myself stressing over getting my blog done. I wanted to write the perfect post and make sure I was saying EXACTLY what I wanted to. I was freaking out hardcore about it. This, I soon discovered, was stupid.
I’ve been stressing about deadlines for pretty much my entire life and, if all goes according to plan, I’m going to stress about deadlines for a long long time after, what with grad school and everything. So why on Earth, when I’m not even in school, would I stress myself out about it now. My blog was supposed to be a way to share my life with people I care about. Not worry about if they got my post on time. So I made a decision, I won’t write anything until I feel like it. When I’m ready to write or have something I desperately need to share, I will. Until then, I don’t want to stress about it. I’ll write my thoughts and share my ideas on my own time because soon, sooner then I know, I’ll have to be writing for a deadline again. So here it goes!!


I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to continue to play volleyball at the professional level in Ravenna, Italy with Olimipia Teodora Volleyball. It was an incredibly lucky circumstance that they needed a middle blocker and were willing to wait for me to be ready to come out to play.


Earlier this year I had to get some work done for an injury I had sustained during the last few months of season at Penn State so I wasn’t able to go and play volleyball right away like I had originally wanted. Instead, I had to consider my long term volleyball career and decided to take care of the injury ASAP and change up my original game plan. So I took two months off. Thankfully enough my trainers and coaches at Penn State were more than willing to help me recover and get back in to playing shape. ((Quick shout out to Scotty P (Scott Campbell), I’ll deny it if you tell him I said this, but I was very fortunate to have someone as good as him be willing to work with me and help me get back to where I needed to be. He’s good at what he does, there’s no denying it. But enough sentiment, Scott if you’re reading this don’t forget I still hate you and we’re not friends… ))


So I took those two months off, worked in the equipment room at Penn State and did physical therapy with Pippen. Then once I was ready and after a quick jaunt to Chicago to get my visa, I was off to Italy! Now, I am here. It’s been less than week and I’m already learning so much! My team has been very patient with me as I figure out drills and my flatmates, Chiara and Sofia, have been more than amazing. They help me practice my Italian, show me where things are in Ravenna, and are helping me get my bearings as a pro athlete. What’s more, when I first got here and had nothing at all they shared their food with me and helped me buy groceries without skipping a beat. They’ve been absolutely incredible and I am so lucky to have met them.


Volleyball wise, each day I’m feeling stronger. If any of you have experienced this, coming back from injury can be very very hard, both physically and mentally. But it’s great to be back in the gym. It’s definitely very different from playing in Penn State, ((if I ever finish writing South Gym Soldiers you’ll understand what I’m talking about)) but it’s still like any other work day. You go as hard as you can! Here, in Ravenna, it’s important to remember that quality can be better than quantity. So I try to do my best every single time I’m in. The funniest part, I’ll make some kind of stupid mistake and hear Russ in the back of my head chirping about how that can’t happen and I’ll see him making a note in his book. Some things never change.


While I’m here, I want to grow, I want to get better. I am never good enough and there are so many aspects of the game I can’t wait to improve on. For that reason, Ravenna is perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to be to get me back to playing at 100%. The coaches are good, my setter is a baller, and every day I can’t wait to practice and get back into the gym. The future is bright if you’re willing to work for it. So I’ll keep my nose to the grindstone and do what I do best, make jokes and play volleyball. Until next time y’all. Adopo!


P.S. Ravenna has the most gorgeous library!! You bet your bottom dollar I’ll be hanging out there just about all the time. ANNNND it’s where Dante Alighieri was buried since his banishment from Florence prevented him from being buried in his hometown. The culture in my little town is amazing and I can’t wait to explore!!!

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 ||