I have spent the last two years at Webber International University located in the middle of Florida.
Last fall our preseason began August 4th with team bonding scavenger hunts and team meals. We quickly got into the swing of things with practice 2 times a day with a weights session in between. The team quickly learnt new playing systems with our new coaching staff. I was unfortunately very restricted in my playing during preseason as I was still have issues with my ankle post surgery but my coaches were fantastic in working with my restrictions to put me in as many drills as possible.
After two weeks of preseason classes and our normal schedule got set in place. Setters start training at 3:05 then the whole team starts at 3:30-5:30pm then weights session 5:30-6:30pm weekdays. Our games are played every Wednesday and Saturday. Home games are amazing because so many supporters come out to our games. Being around volleyball everyday is an absolute dream. Being able to work on specific skills and gaining game specific fitness enhances everyone’s game so much. Also spending so much of my day around other people that love the sport as much as I do is very inspiring.
I was able to begin playing a week before our first conference game. I had to work very hard in rehab to make it happen but the hard work really did pay off. I was lucky enough to be selected to travel with the team for every game of the season. We got to travel all over Florida and had games in Georgia. The season’s schedule was tiring and full on but super exciting and allowed for no dull moments. We finished the regular season 2nd in our conference. We won our conference tournament in Miami and got our bid to play the first round of nationals in Ohio.
We travelled to Ohio leaving Webber at 4am. We were told to pack our warmest clothes as it was predicted to snow when we landed. Majority of my team had never seen snow so it was a big deal once it started snowing. We unfortunately fell short in Ohio losing 1-3 to Lourdes University ending our nationals bid.
I did not get any court time throughout the season but I am super grateful I got to train and travel with the team. I believe I learnt a lot from the experience.
Beach season is in full swing at the moment. We train two hours daily during the week with weights and conditioning sessions Monday-Thursday with Friday reserved for ice baths or an active recovery. I have been struggling with some minor stress fractures that held me from practice for a month. But with lots of rehab I was back playing in no time. I have been playing with a Finnish girl as our team’s 3rd seed which has been a good challenge for us. We have similar playing styles which make us a good match. I have really found a love for beach volleyball over here and my knowledge of the game has increased majorly this season. We have been playing against a few nationally ranked NCAA teams which has taught us a lot about our strengths and weaknesses.
My class schedule has consisted of mostly ‘general education’ classes which all students have to take in their first two years on university, but I have been able to take a few more course related classes which I have really enjoyed. I have classes every day during the week but Wednesday. The university doesn’t hold lectures on Wednesdays to allow for our sports teams to travel.
I have really enjoyed my experience so far in Florida. It has been tough handling so many injuries but the support from my teammates, friends and family I have been able to make it through. My teammates are my family over here and they are some of the most amazing and inspiring players I have met.
I would encourage anyone who is interested in the “college experience” to talk to Luke, myself or any of the other athletes overseas. It really is a great experience and if you keep training hard and doing the right things it is a goal that is very achievable.