Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Buffalo Roots

Let me begin by taking you back to 2008.

I was a young, scared, and eager freshmen ready to continue my successful high school volleyball career at the University of Colorado at Boulder. At the time, the team was coming off a losing season and I was hoping to come in and help turn the program around. After finishing my first college preseason I was eager to play in the first tournament. However, as I was warming up in my first game, my coach pulled me aside and said that he would like to redshirt me. I was confused but agreed with him and decided to redshirt my freshmen year.

Going from being on the Youth and Junior Canadian National team to not playing in a single match my  first year as a Buff was a let down. However, I loved my coaches and my teammates. Although the season was the second losing season in a row, I had a great year and was ready to come back after winter break and be able to compete for a spot on the court.

My excitement soon turned to devastation when my teammates and I returned from winter break and our coaching staff called an unexpected meeting with us. We gathered in our gym and they told us that they had been fired. Tears filled my eyes and I panicked. So many thoughts filled my head and I debated transferring throughout the spring semester.

About halfway through the spring semester and after countless interviews with new coaches, a new head coach was hired. Little did I know that this was going to the beginning of very difficult chapter in my life. At first, my teammates and I were very optimistic about the new head coach. She was a strong, independent, Samoan lady who knew what she wanted and how to get it. The spring semester was full of adjustments, the biggest being the hiring of her assistant coach.

This is where I believe the program took a turn for the worse. Our head coach hired a manipulative, arrogant, rude and disrespectful male assistant coach who knew what he wanted from the moment he was hired: a new team.

When I went home for the summer I was still very optimistic and felt that I was on the "good-side" of the coaching staff. I believed that they wanted me to be on the team and I worked hard that summer to impress them when I returned. When I arrived back for my true freshmen year, preseason proved to be one of the hardest preseasons I have ever experienced. NCAA Women's Volleyball preseasons are notorious for the long hours of physically demanding work, many hours spent in the cold tub, and virtually no contact with anyone but your team. This preseason was no different.

Everything appeared to be going great, it looked like I had chance to play that season. Suddenly the day before season officially started, I rolled my ankle. This injury was the beginning of what I would consider "hell". I sat out of practice for approximately two days when I probably should of been out for a couple weeks. There was swelling all the way from my toes to my shin. My skin was purple, blue and black and I could barely walk without pain. However, the new coaching staff believed that injuries were "all in your head."

This was the moment when I realized that these coaches were heartless and had ulterior motives. Things did not get better from here but rather worsened with every practice, every game, and every tournament. I will continue this story throughout the next couple weeks and shed light on what I would consider the "dark side" to athletics.

My high school dream of being an NCAA Volleyball player soon became my biggest nightmare.

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