Warrior wire: volleyball, faith and a challenge to find the joy in life

Alli Shea

It’s incredible how one love, whether it be a person, a hobby, a place or a sport, can take our minds to a place where we always feel comfortable. To this day and for the rest of my life, I will be able to describe to you the smell of an empty gym and the sound of my sneakers squeaking off of the wooden floor. I will forever be able to picture my family in the crowd and the looks on their faces when our eyes lock. I’ll remember just about every little thing about volleyball, even after I walk off the court for the last time.


Yet, most importantly, I’ll still have the one thing that got me through each and every practice I thought I couldn’t finish. The thing that lifted me back up after each loss, that left me broken, defeated, and on my knees…Faith.


I’ve been playing volleyball since I was 10 years old, and I knew from the first time I stepped onto the court that I didn’t want my volleyball journey to end after high school. I began to put the hours in at the gym and in the weight room to make this goal become a reality. I traveled all over the Midwest to compete in high-level tournaments with hopes of finding the right coach, at the right time, that wanted me to play for them.


I prayed often that God would tell me what to do and where to go. I prayed that he would make it clear to me where I belong. But it wasn’t until I stepped on campus at Rochester University that I heard his response.


Instantly I knew this was the place I was going to spend the next four years of my life. I was overwhelmed by the love I felt from the team on my first visit and the family environment that they embodied. I knew that this program was something special and I needed to be a part of it.


My volleyball experience for the last 10 years has been truly amazing and has helped shape me into the person that I am today. But, those amazing experiences aren’t the greatest thing that Rochester University has given me. The school and the volleyball program have given me the opportunity to grow in my faith and walk closer with God than ever before.


I believe wholeheartedly that my time at Rochester University and as a member of the Rochester University volleyball team have opened my eyes to what “walking humbly in the company of your God” (Micah 6:8) faithfully means.


While at Rochester over the past three years, God has challenged me with the word “joy.” I have been challenged to choose and find joy in life and really live it out for others to see. When my volleyball journey began years ago, the sport alone quickly brought me joy. It has continued to bring me joy up and to this day but in new ways.


One of these is through my younger sister, Elizabeth. Being able to share my joy and love for the sport of volleyball with her has been one of the most rewarding experiences ever. Watching her love for the game grow as mine did at a young age and being able to witness it first hand is so special.


I have also recently begun coaching volleyball through a local club, High Performance. This too has expanded my love and joy for the game in many ways. Being able to influence young girls both on- and off-the-court has brought me tremendous joy and expanded my love for the sport. This makes the joy theme a little deeper than just loving volleyball, but putting life in perspective and then sharing that with others.


I mention all of these things about joy to say that in my life, as I have begun to understand joy deeper and deeper, I have realized that joy is quiet assurance that everything is going to be alright.


My time at Rochester has certainly not gone by without low points. I have been through some of the lowest of lows and highest of highs. By welcoming joy into my life, I have made it through to the other side of this roller coaster ride. Finding joy in every situation has allowed me to push through these low points and make the most of them. It has challenged me to look beyond my current circumstances—no matter what’s happening.


As my time as a member of the Rochester University volleyball team begins to come to an end, I am so thankful that it has played a pivotal role in allowing me to find my joy in life. By first finding joy in volleyball, I can now find joy in things beyond that.

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