Aug. 20, 2014
Alabama Volleyball welcomes eight newcomers to the team this season, so we’ll be chatting with all of them over the next eight days. Kicking off the series is Leah Lawrence from Huntsville, Ala.
How did you get your start playing volleyball?
“I started playing volleyball when I was ten years old because my dad encouraged me to. My parents wanted me to play a sport that I had talents for and I was already pretty tall at that age. My dad also played volleyball in the city league, so he knew the sport and knew how to coach it. He was my first coach.”
Did you try any other sports besides volleyball?
“When I was little, I tried basketball and soccer but I never enjoyed those as much as I enjoyed volleyball. I never played two sports at one time so I was totally committed to volleyball.”
At what point did playing collegiately become a real possibility for you?
“It was probably around my freshman year or maybe a little before that. I had a lot of people tell me that I had a natural talent for the sport. Coaches were supporting me along the way and playing in college seemed like a good goal to shoot for.”
What other colleges were you looking at and what eventually brought you to Alabama?
“I initially visited Auburn, Mississippi State and Kentucky. At this point, [Alabama Head Coach] Ed Allen had just been hired, so we didn’t know much about him. My club coach called him and encouraged him to come to a practice and watch me. Coach Allen eventually offered me a scholarship and it was the first offer I received since I was still just a sophomore. I went ahead and committed early and was very excited.”
What were some of your first impressions of the Alabama campus and the team?
“The campus is the most beautiful one I’ve ever been on. Everything our team does is very organized. All of the sports at Alabama strive for a really high level of competition and excellence. It felt like an environment I needed to be in.”
Since you’re from Huntsville, was it important for you to go somewhere close to home?
“It was definitely high on my list. I didn’t want to go more than six hours away because I knew my family would want to come and watch as much as they could. I think they’re going to try and be at every home game.”
You committed early, so you’ve been able to watch this team grow over the last few years. What does the team look like now as opposed to a few years ago when you committed?
“The team overall has gotten a lot better. The individual players are very talented but I think they’ve also bonded more as a team. It looks like a fun group to play with.”
Have you and the other freshmen talked about what some of your goals are over the next four years?
“I think our goal is to win the SEC and then after that it would be to win multiple NCAA matches. We want to keep improving and keep winning.”
So far, how have you handled the adjustment to college life?
“My experience so far has been good. I was home schooled so, when you’re home schooled you have to be a self-starter and motivate yourself to do your homework. You don’t always have someone telling you what to do and when to do it so I think that’s very similar to the college setup. You have to motivate yourself to go to classes, do homework and make good choices with your time. I think being home schooled really helped me prepare for that.”
For the young volleyball players out there who want to play in college, what’s the biggest tip you would give them?
“Don’t be afraid to dream big. It’s one of my goals to go play in the Olympics. That’s my ultimate goal. If you don’t start somewhere, you won’t be able to achieve anything.”
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