THE STAGES OF MOTIVATION
At a young age, I was told that nothing would be handed to me and to always work as hard as possible to succeed. Motivation is something I was taught early in my life and have been blessed enough to carry with me throughout my volleyball career. My 14’s coaches Pat and Jeff were the first people to believe in my ability and who told me that I had what it takes to play at the next level. They left me with one specific piece of advice that stuck: a lot of people want to play at the collegiate level, so the only way I could make it there was if I outworked all of them.
They left me with one specific piece of advice that stuck: a lot of people want to play at the collegiate level, so the only way I could make it there was if I outworked all of them.
I started playing volleyball when I was 11 and played solely for the love of the game. After that moment at 14 years old, I decided that I wanted to play volleyball in college. But, with that decision came a new motivation to overcome any obstacle that would stand in my way of getting there for the next four years.
I have never been the strongest or the tallest player on my team, but what I did have was motivation to outwork the competition. In men’s volleyball, I’m considered an undersized outside hitter at 6’3 because most players in my position are between 6’4 and 6’7. This has been my position to this day and the determination that drove me was visible. My unrelenting drive enabled me to be recruited and earn offers from my dream schools at the university level.
After committing to play at USC, I found myself somewhat lost in the world. Instead of being ecstatic to see my hard work and determination pay off, I didn’t know what to work for anymore. My love of the game seemed to have disappeared.
My love of the game seemed to have disappeared.
I had accomplished my dream of playing volleyball at the next level, but I lost the fire that had been pushing me to get better every single day. Without this familiar companion, I was left with a hole in my heart. This hole was not filled until I found a new goal: the goal of winning a national championship.
My freshman year, I found a new love for volleyball. Playing at a higher level with new teammates pushed me to elevate my game even further. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the second half of the season in March 2020, I began to question how much time I had given to volleyball throughout my life. I was unsure if I wanted to spend the majority of my time left in college paying the physical and emotional demands required to keep my position and my time on the court.
The amount of time and energy this sport was taking out of my life felt all-consuming. That feeling – on top of practice, film, tutoring, weight room and rehabilitation – was exaggerated by the fact that I hadn’t been enjoying it as much as I used to. In October, I had reached my breaking point and called a meeting with my coach to discuss my role on the team. I was planning on leaving the team because I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I had even gone home to let my parents know how unhappy I was and that I wanted to quit.
It wasn’t until I met with my coach that I realized the importance of my role on the team. After my coach explained his point of view and where I fit into his plans, I found my fire and drive to compete again. That conversation was a turning point that helped me unlock the motivation to earn a starting spot on the team. Now, our team is currently ranked fifth in the nation with a record of 10-2, and I’m so grateful that I get to be on the court competing with my team. As a junior, I recognize and appreciate the precious time that I have left here. My goal is to lead by example to motivate my teammates and to maintain the team's high standards.
My relationship with volleyball has been a blessing and a curse. The blessings only come after tons of hours of practice and hard work, but the curse of giving a majority of my time to this game has always lingered on my mind. Without this sport, I would not nearly be the person I am today, and I would never experience this undying dedication to my craft.
Without this sport, I would not nearly be the person I am today, and I would never experience this undying dedication to my craft.
Volleyball has given me a sense of direction when I felt lost – my teammates have always picked me up when I felt down and have helped show me the light at the end of the tunnel that we are all working toward together.
Photo courtesy of Adam Flood
Photo courtesy of Adam Flood