Babson volleyball provided me the opportunity to learn to love a sport again. Reflecting back on my three years at Babson, I often wonder what kind of person I would be without having played for this program.
I am incredibly thankful for the lessons and experiences that being a transfer student-athlete have taught me. After spending my freshman year at The University at Buffalo, I was ready to give up on the sport that had once shaped who I was. Although I found success on the court at UB as well as in the classroom, my experience being a Division I athlete changed the way I saw volleyball. The game became more of a job than a passion, and I was disappointed to have thought I had lost such a significant piece of my life.
When deciding to transfer, Babson was the only school I considered playing volleyball for in all of my applications. At the time, continuing my athletic career was no longer a part of my plan. But thankfully, through the relentless encouragement of my family, prior coaches and teammates, and coaches at Babson, I decided to give my sport another chance. I fell in love with Babson and have not looked back since.
Babson volleyball has given me more than I could have ever asked for. It has instilled values in me that I will carry for the rest of my life. Being a student-athlete taught me the value of perseverance, and not giving up on something that has brought me so much happiness. Without Babson volleyball I would have missed out on an amazing family of people. This team gave me a home on campus, and brought so many communities into my life, including coaches, trainers, Babson faculty and staff, teammates and families, and my best friends. It became more than a sport, but a part of who I was and where I belonged. Playing for Babson gave me a greater purpose and the opportunity to do something larger than myself. The chance to represent my school and wear the word "Babson" across my back is a special privilege, and I have always been proud to do so. It has given me an opportunity to work hard for something, not only for myself but for my teammates. It has taught me to be a leader and mentor to younger generations of Babson athletes.
In my short time on the team, I have seen tremendous growth in our program. Coming in as a sophomore, my first year was a "rebuilding" stage for Babson volleyball. Although we saw many successes, we fell short in the postseason. That year, I also experienced my first season-ending injury, tearing my meniscus halfway through the year. Suffering from an injury so influential to my career was very difficult to overcome. I remember how upset I was and how hard it was to be on the sideline and not helping my team. But looking back, this time was also instrumental to my growth as a player, coming out of rehab with a far greater appreciation for the sport.
Back for my junior year, I was more motivated and excited than ever. Having brought in a lot of new talent, we were unaware of our full potential. As the season progressed, we grew tremendously, both on and off the court. We began to develop a team culture that was new to us, and this unity contributed to our success. Having finished the regular season 18-8, we were disappointed to have fallen short again in the NEWMAC semifinals. Yet, fortunately we were granted a bid to the NCAA Tournament. This moment was truly the turning point for Babson volleyball. We traveled to Potsdam, N.Y., and entered the tournament with a "nothing to lose" mentality. That weekend Babson volleyball played at a level far beyond we knew we were capable of, and made it to the NCAA Sweet 16.
Senior year was the craziest, and best ride of all. Having finished our last year in the top 16, everyone came into the season with a new set of expectations. Although we were thrilled to make it where we did in 2017, it was not without disappointment realizing we could have gone further. But, it proved to all of us that we had the ability to compete with any DIII team, and the potential for even greater things. Moving forward, we had our best season in program history. We finished 26-9 overall, clinching a NEWMAC Championship and going undefeated at home. We not only earned our own bid to NCAAs, but also had the opportunity to host the regional tournament at home. Drawing in a record-breaking number of fans, we swept our way through quarters, semis, and finals, winning our first regional championship and trip to the national tournament.
In this run of success, I was lucky to experience so many of the moments that we all play for. In these moments, the years of commitment and dedication, the off-season trainings, the long practices and lifts you didn't think you could get through, the injuries, and the late nights trying to balance athletics and school all become worth it. There is no better feeling than when the goals you have shared and worked toward with your teammates everyday become a reality. I remember the wave of emotions that took over during our final play of regionals as I watched the point end. My team came running in, the crowd was screaming, and time stopped as I paused to think to myself that "we made it". The moment was surreal. That feeling of joy and pride in myself, my teammates, coaches, and parents in the stands made every day worth it.
If I could relive my three years as a Babson volleyball player I would without a doubt. I remember how I felt walking out of the locker room for the last time after our Elite 8 loss. I barely made it out before I broke down, knowing it was the end of such an incredible journey with this sport. I knew I was losing something amazing at Babson, but was incredibly humbled to have had the experience I did. Babson volleyball allowed me to break records and achieve personal and team accolades I would have never imagined. I am forever thankful for my decision to give volleyball another chance at Babson, and the person it has allowed me to become. I am thankful for the lifelong relationships this program has given me, and the experiences and memories I will always cherish.