Thanks For The Adventure – Now Go Have A New One

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This weekend was graduation for the class of 2015 at the University of Michigan. I don’t know how four years have managed to go by so fast. Most people, even some of my own classmates, thought I would be partaking in the festivities as a fellow graduate. However, I redshirted my freshman year and still have another season of eligibility for volleyball and plan on graduating next year. It’s a decision that I am very happy with because it gives me the opportunity to complete a dual-degree and spend another year at the greatest university in the world. But this weekend it felt rather bittersweet. I am so proud and happy for my friends who graduated and can’t wait to see what an amazing impact they will make on the world. On the other hand, it’s just now hitting me how strange it will be to not have them on campus next year.

This class consists of many of the people who have shaped my time at Michigan and now they will be gone. They’ve been with me running around South Quad freshman year, pulling all nighters on group projects, attending sporting events, and putting on leadership events. I’ve made some lifelong friends. Attending several of the graduation ceremonies and hanging out with people who are leaving soon has made me realize how lucky and fortunate I am to have started my time at Michigan with such a fantastic group of people. The past four years include some of the greatest accomplishments and hardships of my life, and I have the friends I made from freshman year on to thank for getting me to this point. For those who leave Michigan, but for whom Michigan never leaves. I’m so grateful for my friends who can now call themselves Michigan alum.

“Thanks for the adventure–now go have a new one.” – Ellie (Up)

It’s Supposed To Be Hard. If It Wasn’t Hard, Everyone Would Do It. The Hard… Is What Makes It Great

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This semester spring volleyball had an interesting twist. Some of the Army ROTC cadets would come in on Wednesdays and lead us through drills instead of our regular practice. On the first Wednesday this happened, my team had no idea what we were about to get into. Mark called us to meet at the Block M at the center of the court like normal and even had a fake practice plan written out. He then explained that we wouldn’t be going through our regular practice and called the cadets into the gym. My teammates barely had time to process what Mark had just said before we were yelled at to get on the end line and start doing jumping jacks.

Our training with Army ROTC finished with a final mission that after crawling through wire, climbing over walls, and lugging water jugs across campus ended at the Big House. Overall, I learned that I am glad I am a volleyball player and not an Army cadet. The amount of push ups required are drastically different. The experience was one that I am sure my teammates and I will remember. It was nice getting to know some of the cadets and to see some of what they have to go through everyday. Of course, after going through the program we invited them to try what we do and play us in volleyball. They even dressed in spandex as we had to wear army t-shirts and vests when they would train us.

I’m happy that I have completed my final spring volleyball season. It was great seeing everyone’s hard work pay off when most of the team set personal records in the weight room and in conditioning. While many of my friends are about to graduate, I’m grateful that I have one more year at the best school in the world. There are still a lot of things I want to accomplish at Michigan and I’m excited to begin my final volleyball season.

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.” – Jimmy Dugan (A League of Their Own)

Everything Is Cool When You’re Part Of A Team

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Christmas came early for my boyfriend, John, when I decided to get tickets to the last Cleveland Browns (he’s the fan, don’t look at me) home game of the season. He had never been to a NFL game and I thought it would be a nice break before he started finals week. I was fortunate enough to be done with classes the earliest date possible. I stayed in Ann Arbor for an extra few days to hang out with friends that I didn’t get to see often enough this semester. However, I had bought the football tickets a while back and it was by checking on my fantasy team the week prior that I remembered the date for this game was coming up. Fantasy Football was clutch.

The game itself was terrible. It was Johnny Manziel’s first and last start of the season. I couldn’t help but watch in amazement and horror as the Browns lost to the Bangles 0-30. In amazement because I had no idea a team could be so bad until I witnessed it, and horror because I realized the Browns were my defense in Fantasy Football. But John had fun so I think it was a success (and the Lions won and are in the playoffs, which is what really matters).

Being my classic self, I didn’t think twice when I dressed up in my Michigan Volleyball winter jacket and a grey Michigan hat. As a result, I received quite a few chirps while in Ohio. I’ll admit some of them were rather creative, but my favorite was when one of the guys behind me was giving me crap for being in Michigan gear, but then noticed my jacket said “Michigan Volleyball” under the block M and thought I was cool (Go Blue!).

As I said earlier I am done with the fall semester! The volleyball season didn’t go as well as we would’ve hoped, but I can honestly say with complete bias (but valid reasons) that I was part of the best team in the country. Everyone came into the gym everyday with the intention of getting better. From teammates who were doing rehab to freshman embracing starting roles, everyone was working hard and giving their all for Michigan. The Michigan Athletic community has faced a lot of adversity these past few months and I’m proud to say the team was able to work through it and kept trying to win for Michigan.

On the academic side, a highlight for me was my screenwriting class. I can now say that I have written a full-length feature film! Turning in the hard copy was difficult because everyone in the class worked all semester on writing a 100 plus page screenplay and by the end you just don’t want to give up your baby. In the end I printed it off simply so I would stop editing and changing things. We’re only allotted so many printing pages so I was not about to print it twice.

Now I’m back home and enjoying time with my family. We went ice skating recently and I’m hoping to improve my skating abilities enough to join the Ross Business ice hockey team for my last semester when I’m done with volleyball. More to come on that in a year. In the meantime, I’m excited to be home for the holidays and catch up on reading, watching movies, and hanging out with friends.

“Everything is cool when you’re part of a team” – (The Lego Movie)

The Best Thing About Now, Is That There Is Another One Tomorrow

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Today marks the start of my fourth lap as a Michigan Volleyball player and I’m so excited to be back on campus with some of my favorite people. Pre-season is always a tough time on our bodies, but it’s also a chance to catch up with everyone returning and make the freshman feel at home before the rest of the student body joins us back on campus.

I had a fantastic summer but I’m ready to get to work in the gym with my teammates and coaches. Being away from everyone was difficult and I’m happy to have my second family back. Each year coming back to Ann Arbor feels more and more like coming back home. Of course that’s the case as I get closer and closer to leaving.

My favorite part about pre-season is that we have the campus mostly to ourselves and can explore our usual stomping grounds and some new places. This year I don’t have to move into a new house, which is the best thing ever! Seriously, moving is the worst. I love my room and my house is right across the street from the volleyball gym.

This will be the last year that Lexi and I will play together and it’s crazy to think how fast the time has gone. It seems like we were just freshman trying to navigate West Quad and find our place at this school. Even though I red-shirted, Lexi and I still consider ourselves as classmates. Each year we take an unofficial class picture together (featured above) and it’s going to be strange not having her around next year.

But we still have this season together and I can’t wait to start my next year at Michigan. I’m looking forward to having a great season and enjoying time with my friends before they leave me for the real world!

“The best thing about now, is that there’s another one tomorrow.” – Sutter (The Spectacular Now)

If You’re Willing To Do The Work, You Can Have Anything

imageIt feels like summer has been flying by since school ended. I’ve been in Chicago for almost two months now and it seems I’m past the halfway point of my internship. I don’t even know how it is already the end of June! I have been having a blast in Chicago and loving everyday of my time in this incredible city.

There are so many great Michigan connections in Chicago. At the beginning of the summer I reached out to Michigan hockey alumnus, Kevin Magnuson.  He met up with me for coffee and we spent an hour walking around Lincoln Park. He told me about his experiences at Michigan and his path to becoming a Sport Agent. The amount of adversity he faced and worked through is unbelievable and I am grateful he was willing to share his story with me.

Some of my good friends also accepted internships in Chicago and we have been able to meet up for things like brunch, fro-yo, and thai food. I am attempting to expand my knowledge past deep-dish pizza and Portillo’s (not to say there is anything wrong with continuing to indulge in them). Along with trying new eateries, I have been exploring more of Chicago. I went to the Lincoln Park Zoo for the first time and have spent a couple days at the beach.

My time working with the Red Stars has been everything I could hope for in this internship. The people I work with are wonderful and I enjoy the projects I have gotten to do. We have office trips like fro-yo and cupcake o’clock and have a World Cup challenge going on. Unfortunately both of the teams I drew are already eliminated so I will not get to wear sweatpants to work. Working for Chicago’s women’s professional soccer team during the World Cup is a blast. I worked the tent at the first Grant Park World Cup viewing party and it was awesome to see 8,000 people chanting, “I believe that we will win”!

Yesterday I went with my boss to WCIU for a television segment on Red Stars player Jackie Santacaterina and her cousin, Chicago Fire’s Mike Magee. It was interesting to see the behind the scenes aspect of producing a show. I also met the Red Stars’ publicist who knew Michigan Volleyball alum Erin Moore! It is crazy to think about how small the volleyball community is sometimes.

This past week I accepted a part-time position on the Chicago Blackhawks marketing street team. I’ll be working events such as Rib Fest, Taste of Chicago, and the Chicago Blackhawks Convention. I am thrilled to be working for an original six organization and I am excited to attend orientation this week. Hopefully it is the beginning of a relationship that allows me to return to Chicago next summer!

“If you’re willing to do the work, anything can be done.” -Daniel Lugo (Pain & Gain)

The People Who Are Crazy Enough To Think They Can Change The World Are The Ones Who Do

imageSpring break was an eye opening experience and very rewarding trip. A week in New Orleans surrounded by incredible people was the perfect way to spend my Spring Break. There were 16 of us from New Life Church who went to New Orleans to help with the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. An added bonus was that Mardi Gras was during the week we went down. I didn’t know anyone before the trip began, but by the end had made some great friends.

We stayed at a local church that could room up to 60 people at a time. There were two other groups staying at the same time we were so it was a pretty full space. The leaders of the church would get up every morning and make breakfast and set out food for us to make our lunches. The first day we went out and worked with Project Greenlight replacing light bulbs in home with energy efficient bulbs.  The first house my group went to had 45 light bulbs for us to change! It was nice getting to speak to the homeowners and learn more about their stories of Hurricane Katrina. Our church leader has done this trip several times and pointed out to us how the floors were all now tile instead of carpet and the interior décor was new but there wasn’t much in the homes in terms of keepsakes.

One thing I learned while being in New Orleans is that everyone has a story. I was amazed by some of the things the volunteers had gone through and are still smiling and helping others everyday. One of the Project Homecoming volunteers told us of the challenges she faced even getting to New Orleans to help. For her staying for 6 months turned into 7 years. She hopes to write a book on her journey one day and I would definitely be one of the first people to buy it. She is an inspiration. So many people at Project Homecoming claimed they knew nothing about building homes when they first offered to help but you would have no idea when you see them working on the sites. They all seemed like professional contractors to me. I will say that my home improvement skills were greatly improved. I can now caulk, spackle, and paint with the best of them.

On Mardi Gras the entire town is shut down and parades are going from 8:00a.m to midnight. We went out early in the morning because the first two parades were the main parades of Mardi Gras. Not only were they throwing beads but also they would toss Frisbees, footballs, and other toys. However, the ultimate prizes were the coconuts. Only the Zulu parade had them and I’m happy to say that I caught one that sits proudly on my bookshelf in Ann Arbor. We ate king cake which is a dessert special to Mardi Gras that was delicious. In one piece was a plastic baby Jesus and if you had it you would have good luck for the year. Since I had the job of hiding the baby Jesus I wasn’t the lucky person who found it.

We also went to the French Quarter and ate at Café du Monde. I will admit my time in the French Quarter began and ended at Café de Monde and I had five beignets during the hours we had to spend there. We explored Bourbon Street and found an art fair that had some very talented people show casing their work. My favorite part was the jazz band on the street corner that we found. A bunch of people crowded around and took over the street, dancing the night away. New Orleans is an incredible place with great people and great food. I can’t wait to go back.

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” -Steve Jobs (Jobs)

Most Doors In The World Are Closed, So If You Find One You Want To Get Into: You Better Have An Interesting Knock

imageThe end of midterms means the return of blogging! My coffee to water ratio has been horrific but I survived and think I managed to do relatively well on my exams at the same time. This has been a much busier semester than I anticipated but I am happy I get to do so many neat things.

I went to a Pistons game with the Michigan Sport Business Conference where we bonded as a team. We had a suite and access to Club West, which meant really good free food. Emma and I spent the entire first half watching the game on a TV eating salmon, potatoes, pizza, cheesecake, and whatever else looked delicious. I think it’s an interesting atmosphere that sports teams have provided for fans. While some fans may not leave their seat except for intermission, others may never go to their seat. If it had been a Red Wing game I would have definitely fallen in the former category, even if I had access to their eatery downstairs at the Joe. We made it back to the suite in time for the halftime show by Mase and stayed for the rest of the game. We also got to listen to Dennis Mannion, President of the Detroit Pistons, speak on how we can expand out conference and what the Pistons are doing to better the fan experience.

Emma and I also went back to the Palace recently for the Pistons’ career fair. It was an interesting experience with a wide variety of attendees. Some were still in college like us, while others had completed grad school and already had other work experience. I spoke with a representative for the Columbus Blue Jackets who was very nice and answered all of my questions about working in hockey. It turned out that the VP of Consumer Sales, Brad Lott, for the Pistons had previously been with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Emma immediately guessed that I would want to speak with him, but since he was in sales and I want to do more PR and marketing I went to speak with Lauren Miller, the Senior Director of Marketing. Of course Emma ended up being right and I found myself spending the majority of my time listening to Mr. Lott. Speaking with him made the trip worth it because he shared multiple stories about his experiences and professional aspirations. He was more than willing to talk about his time working for an NHL team and offered to put me in contact with colleagues in the communications field.

This past week I also got to work as a marketing intern for the Penn State vs. Michigan hockey game. I was excited to work the game not only because it was hockey, but also a friend from high school, Zach Saar, was on the Penn State team. I had played high school and club volleyball with his sister Lauren and have many fond memories of his mom driving all of us Doster kids to tournaments. I was able to sit with Mrs. Saar during the third period and catch up while watching Michigan beat Penn State. Another high school teammate for volleyball and basketball, Carlee Pallett, and her mom were also at the game cheering Zach on. It was great to see so many familiar faces from Plainwell that I haven’t seen in awhile.

Tomorrow I leave for New Orleans with a group of students from New Life Church to help build houses destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. It amazes me how it has already been eight years since the storm and people still don’t have their homes back. I’m excited to do what I can to help over spring break. We are also there during Mardi Gras and have plans to attend the parades and festivities on Tuesday. I have never been to New Orleans so I’m thrilled to get to explore the city and try the food that I have heard so much about. In order to do that I should probably start packing.

“Most doors in the world are closed, so if you find one you want to get into: you better have an interesting knock.” – Sam (People Like Us)

To Overcome Life’s Obstacles You Need Faith, Hope And, Above All, A Sense Of Humor

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The life of a student-athlete has its share of moments of triumph and challenges. This week I found out that I have stress fractures forming in three places on my left shin and two places on my right shin. For an athlete, there is nothing worse than being injured and unable to work at the highest level. During my freshman year I had been out for six weeks on two boots and crutches with stress fractures in both shins. Our trainer, Tim White, said I could have broken both of my legs at any moment. I thought I had overcome that obstacle and refused to ever willingly ride any form of bike again. This week was my first time back on a bike since my previous injury. While it was devastating news, I am fortunate that it was caught early enough that I should have a faster recovery period and be back on the court soon. We have a small cripple crew coming along with Tiff out from shoulder surgery and Bean recently having knee surgery where they found out she had a hole in her cartilage. Hopefully our crew remains at three.

Meanwhile some great work has been going on in the gym and weight room. We have morning lift at the wrestling facility and this spring we were given wrestling shoes. We previously ran in our socks, which would make quick turns difficult. I will never forget freshman year when Danny ran out of the dorms in her socks, shoes in hand, when we were running late for lift. We arrived on time but Mike wasn’t happy with the wet footprints that she left behind while we were warming up on the mats.

My bad fortune continued this week when I discovered my car had been towed while I was at a friend’s house for bible study. Apparently the apartment complex is frequently swept for cars that don’t belong to a resident. When I was signing for the release a man came into the office, looked at me, and then asked the man helping me if I was there for the Prius. He was right but I’m still intrigued as to what about me gave off the impression that I drove a Prius.  My mom is an angel for taking my blunder in stride. I don’t recommend getting towed in Ann Arbor; it’s a rather expensive mistake.

On a lighter note, I finished my first assignment for the Chicago Red Stars. I did a Q & A with recent draft pick Hayley Brock for the team website. I still can’t believe how fortunate and blessed I have been to get this internship and it all started through Twitter. I had been following #sbchat when Laura tweeted a thought that I liked so I clicked on her profile. I then ended up on the Red Stars website and applied for an internship that night. I didn’t even use Twitter until Jen bullied me into creating an account. Now I use it everyday. Twitter chats are a great tool to learn and network within the sports industry. I never would have guessed it would lead me to an internship. I can’t wait to be in Chicago and working with the team full time.

“To overcome life’s obstacles you need faith, hope and, above all, a sense of humor.” -Graduation Speaker (Ghost World)

Learn The Way And Find Your Own Way

imageThis week was filled with a lot of excitement and good news as well as soreness and exhaustion. I’m extremely grateful for KG giving me her unused planner when the binding of mine broke from overuse. Each class and activity is color-coded and keeps me on top of the work I need to get done. I joke that if someone is ever looking for me check Ross, Starbucks, the AC (athletic academic center), or Joe Louis Arena. The only time I’m home is when I’m sleeping. I love being busy and always having something to do.

This was the first officially week of spring volleyball training. While it was clear we were all working hard and improving, it wasn’t without struggle. At the tail end of the second morning lift of the week two players threw up, having just finished doing bear crawls followed by a somersault and sprints. Among our team it is defined as weakness leaving the body. I enjoy spring training because I’m always in awe at the end of it of the things I can do that I was nowhere near capable of at the beginning. I spend a lot of quality time in the ice bath to get there.

Wednesday night Emma and I went to the Red Wings vs. Blackhawks game in Detroit. We left our house at 6:15 and didn’t sit down in Joe Louis until 8:30. The traffic in Ann Arbor was so bad it took 45 minutes to get on the ramp to the highway and then there had been an accident on the highway. Luckily we had only missed was two goals by the Blackhawks. No need to see that. Missing the beginning of the game was more than made up for by the game going to overtime and then a shootout. With the Red Wings record in the shootout, every stopped puck and goal earned a reaction from me. The crowd had been loud all night and the building had the atmosphere of playoff hockey. When the Red Wings won, the Michigan State student in front of me gave me a hug. Even though our college teams would take the ice the next night (with Michigan winning of course) we were united in our love of seeing the Red Wings upset the Blackhawks.

Thursday I accepted an internship with a professional women’s soccer team, the Chicago Red Stars, for the summer. I couldn’t be more excited to join their team and spend the summer in Chicago. With the intense recruiting period going on at Ross it feels great to know what I am doing this summer and even start next week remotely. It is such a blessing to be given this opportunity and feel like I am making progress towards my professional ambitions.

Today Michigan Volleyball hosted a “You Meet The Athlete” clinic and it was a blast. Danny and I were in charge since our coaches couldn’t be present. We had different stations for each skill for the girls and ended with playing volleyball. There was one 5-year-old girl who melted my heart. I was running the serving court with Lerg and got so much joy out of this little girl underhand serving the ball even though it never went over the net. She was listening to me very carefully and trying to follow my instructions despite the ball probably weighing as much as her arm. I think us players got just as much out of the clinic as the girls. After we signed posters and t-shirts KG and Bean went to ask one of the players to take a picture with them. Participating in events like “You Meet The Athlete” is what truly makes Michigan the best place to be a student-athlete.

“Learn the way and find your own way.” – The Silent Monk (The Forbidden Kingdom)

Every Ending Is Just A New Beginning

imageThe start of a new semester can be challenging and this one was no exception. Many of my teammates were jealous that the business school didn’t start classes until a week after the other schools at the University of Michigan. However, I much rather would have started a week earlier if it meant more time to work on assignments. Two days in and we were already working in groups on case studies and staying up until midnight to complete them within the week. I was working in the Fish Bowl on Thursday and saw a student asleep at a table near me. It seems the first full week of class looks just like any other week in the semester. I’d like to think that’s the Michigan difference.

Tuesday I found out that I had made the Michigan Sports Business Conference planning committee that I had interviewed for the week prior. I will be the Pubic Relations Coordinator for MSBC and am very excited for this opportunity. Emma also made the MSBC team which made the news that much more exciting. MSBC is a great organization that connects undergraduates with sports business professionals in a daylong conference every fall. I’m looking forward to being involved in the process and making an impact on the growth of MSBC.

We had our volleyball banquet last night and it was fun celebrating the achievements of some of my best friends. Also the fact that Jen, KG, Lergy, and I won the academic challenge by combining for the best GPA of all the academic teams. Chop House here we come! I guess it’s time I admit that the seniors are done. It was strange being in the gym this week without them but the banquet is what made it final for me. Brittany’s speech had me crying from laughing so hard from start to finish. One of my favorite lines was, “it’s about what you do with who you do.” Her speech was a reflection of who she is as a friend and a teammate. It’s going to be hard moving forward without her and the other seniors.

This week was the beginning of spring training and testing. I’ve already had two ice baths and we’ve barely scratched the surface in difficulty. We tried to explain to the freshman that you may be sore this week, but when we actually get into it next week any flight of stairs will look like impending doom. Danny and I already had our first moment of panic when we were almost late for our 6:30 a.m. lift on Friday. At 6:00 I brushed the snow off my car and Danny walked over to leave. However, the car was stuck. The layer of snow coating the thick ice rink that had formed in my backyard made pushing the Prius out almost impossible. While I was trying to get the car going Danny called our associate head coach Leisa to let her know we may be late but I finally got the car going. At 6:10 we faced our next obstacle in the form of a train blocking our path. That had been the first time I had ever had to wait for a train in my three years at Michigan. Danny called Leisa again to let her know because if you’re not at lift by 6:20 you’re late. The train passes at 6:15 and we finally get to the wrestling facility where we lift, strip out of our winter gear, throw on shoes and are standing at our racks at exactly 6:20. I think I’ll end with that.

“Every ending is just a new beginning”- Ray (Uptown Girls)