Four years ago I was one of those lost little prospective students. And something went right because my visit convinced me to attend Rice.
Last year I wrote a nostalgic post for that decision and wished the best to the prospective students.
This year, they are all over the place, they walk slow, they are staying on campus for an extra day and night in the busiest point in the semester and most importantly, I’m in the midst of making my next BIG LIFE DECISION and I don’t have time to care about the rest. It’s definitely a sign that while I love Rice, it’s time to move on.
It also makes me jealous of the prospies because they still have their parents here checking in with them, trying to help them gather all the information and decide which school is best, if Rice is the best fit. I’m past that; I’m an adult and all the big decisions are mine to make alone.
But seriously: best of luck to the prospective students. I suggest Rice because it has helped me grow and learn in so many intangible, priceless ways, but I know that everyone has their own fit. I’m praying right now that that’s still true for all of us, no matter what stage of life we’re in.
Pouring my heart out about volleyball
So I had a strange realization today. We had a team meeting instead of practice to watch film from our tournament championship and decide on what we wanted to do for the rest of the season. We decided on three days a week instead of two, one of which is strength and conditioning. We also decided to hire a coach to prepare ourselves for the rest of the season. Our goal has moved from winning SIVA to the national stage, which is more than I ever dreamed would happen when I set foot on this campus four years ago.
I came into college with a lot of insecurities about having given up the athlete life, not going to music school after working throughout all of high school to go to conservatory, an my answer was to throw myself as deep into the flames as possible and find myself at the end. I made a lot of horrible decisions, made incredible friends, achieved a more enlightened state of consciousness through self reflection, and overcame a lot of emotional turmoil over the last four years. And I’ve realized that the main source behind all of my struggles is the insecurity i felt with living my life the same way I would at Carthage, focusing on volleyball first and school second because I had the chance to play ball for Rice University. The process of starting the club meant going through three years of lackluster play, and me having to be the lead outside hitter when I had been trained and recruited as a libero. I also had to coach, and we managed one win in two nationals, which occurred when we played in Kansas City with six players, almost all playing out of position.
I was really proud of that win, and, to be honest, I was already incredibly proud of this program. I knew I was going to be a 5th year because I switched majors, but I view it as having redshirted my freshman year because we didn’t compete intercollegiately. I had a solid core of guys who would make sure the program would last after I graduated, and I was at peace with our results. Baby steps, I constantly reminded myself, but it took an immense spiritual and emotional toll on me at the sudden decline in gameplay quality coming to Rice, and not being a perfect student like many of my peers was an additional weight. Add girl drama because I have a thing for crazy women and you’ve got a good cocktail for insecurity.
But this year it’s different. The way the team is now, taking everything very seriously and focusing on competing at the national level, wanting to practice together more than most other club sports at Rice, settling for nothing less than victory and having no fear of big name teams like Texas and Texas A&M, my choices and life have now become justified to my former self.
I didn’t need for this to happen to be happy with my life. School is looking up for me, anyway and I had succeeded in establishing a men’s volleyball program at Rice that was built to last. And now it’s become the team I’ve been hungering for since the end of the 2009 Junior Olympics. This team is better than any team I’ve ever played with, and I know I can play even better than I am now. I’m feeling motivated to work hard so we can get as far as we can, because the sky’s the limit. The only ceiling in this sport is the one you create for yourself, and hard work has already proven to pay of since this team has been built by the sweat of my brow. The heartbreak and tears and angst was all worth it to get to this point, and now anything is possible. We have all of the tools to analyze our game and optimize, and we start conditioning tomorrow. We’ll be well coached, because we already have a record of 15-1 with our only loss to #25 Texas A&M being self-coached.
I’m not making predictions, nor declaring ourselves eventual champions. It’s just completely blown me away how a group of guys come together for one year and become the talented, winning team I’ve always dreamed of playing for.
This club has changed my life forever, and it’ll be tattooed on my skin once my Rice career is done with. And if it’s gonna be on my skin till the day I die, then it might as well have some championships to put on it.
Rice Fight Never Die.