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The CAA Conference Champion
Bryn is a college athlete playing volleyball at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. In 2015, she packed her bags and left her hometown in Austin, Texas and headed for the start of her new life in college. During her 2015 freshman season, she was a starter on the team and held the record for most aces. Her individual success continued on into her sophomore year, along with the success of her team. During the 2016 season, the JMU volleyball team won the CAA Conference title for the first time in sixteen years. Bryn feels honored to be a part of such a great accomplishment and successful team.
What struggles do you face as a college athlete?
I sometimes feel overworked, and feel fatigued throughout the day. I also often have to sacrifice some of my social life for volleyball, because I am always so busy. I struggled a lot with this freshman year, especially. Because I was living on campus, was not allowed to have a car, and still learning how to balance volleyball and life, often times I felt like the only places I went and things I did were to the gym and then back to my dark and small dorm. But, things are much better this year now that I have an apartment off campus and a car. It’s nice that I am able to go other places whenever I want to, and I sometimes even get to go on some fun weekend trips to other towns and cities.
What was the transition between high school and college like academically?
There is a lot more time put into studying in college, and less time learning in the classroom. I was surprised to see that you do more learning outside of the classroom than you do inside. But, learning in college is much more fun and exciting because it is more focused on what you are interested in and majoring in.
What was the transition like for volleyball?
Collegiate volleyball is a much faster paced game. There is a lot more training involved also, both in technique and physically. But, the competition is harder which makes it more fun and interesting. Also, when I was in high school and played for my school and for club, I had always played with and against the same girls. But when I got to college, I learned to play with a completely new set of girls, and we are able to play other teams from all over the country. It’s pretty cool.
Is it hard to balance school and volleyball?
Although it is hard at times, it actually has taught me great time management skills, because I know that I need to get work done before practices. But, I have had some instances where professors and I have had a conflict of interest because they are not in favor of the idea of athletics before school, or athletic-related excused absences.
What was it like to win the CAA championship?
It felt amazing to know that our hard work payed off. It really helped fulfill the student athlete experience and made it feel worthwhile. It was cool to be a part of the team who had won the championship for the first time in sixteen years. Plus, the ring is pretty cool.
What was the NCAA tournament experience like?
It was a different atmosphere playing in an ACC gym against a top Division I school. But, we got a lot of publicity and recognition which was something new and really cool. It is something that I will never forget.
What do you enjoy most about volleyball?
The competitiveness of it. I also like that it is a team sport, and the successes and losses are experienced by the team together, not just as individuals. I think the team is what makes the sport so fun, and I like that not all the glory goes to one person and everyone shares it.
Do you plan to continue playing?
Yes. But after college, probably only in adult leagues, if I feel up to it then.
How long have you been playing volleyball?
I have been playing for about eight years.
Do you regret playing in college? Do you think it has limited your college experience?
Absolutely not. It has made my college experience so much better and I would not change it for anything. Some people may think that playing a sport in college limits your “college experience” but I strongly disagree. Playing volleyball has taught me great life skills, and I have made some of my closest friends through it. Plus, I am still able to have a social life and do well in school, while playing the sport I love.
Are you happy with your choice of school?
Yes, I’m very happy at JMU. I cannot imagine going anywhere else.
Although her choice of school was heavily influenced by her full-ride scholarship offer from James Madison, Bryn does not regret the decision. The school and her experiences as a collegiate student athlete have taught Bryn important life lessons and provided amazing opportunities. Overall, despite the occasional struggles she faces, Bryn fully enjoys being a college athlete and would not change it for the world.