The Oberlin Stories Project

On her first home volleyball game at Oberlin

Elizabeth Wong ’12

“It had been my dream to play college volleyball since I can remember and as I stood star struck looking up at the flag, I could not help but smile and realize that I had done it. I was living the dream.”

A volleyball player jumps for a ball high above the net

It was September 10, 2008, when it hit me. Senior swimmer Scott McInerney sang the Star Spangled Banner beautifully at the Yeowomen’s first home game versus Kenyon. As I stood in line with my fellow teammates and looked up at the flag, my whole volleyball career flashed before my eyes. In that two-minute national anthem, I remembered every winning point I had ever scored, every drop of sweat that got me to this point, and every teammate and coach that had helped me to succeed. It had been my dream to play college volleyball since I can remember and as I stood star struck looking up at the flag, I could not help but smile and realize that I had done it. I was living the dream. All the hard practices, incredible wins, various coaches, and tough losses had made me an athlete; ready to be molded yet again by the best.

When Scott was done singing I could not help but wipe a small tear of accomplishment from my cheek before the referee blew his whistle. My teammate, Courtney Konow, had seen how much it meant for me to be on the court and held my hand as we waited for the first home game of our freshman year to begin. As she held my hand it further assured me that I had made the right choice. My hand was sweating but she did not seem to mind. She smiled and said “Ready?” I nodded and we ran to meet the Kenyon girls at the net. As I slapped hands with each Kenyon member, wishing them good luck, I could not help but smile and realize that I have never been happier with my decision to come to Oberlin College. The game began and I savored every moment. I was like a kid in a candy store. Wide-eyed and grinning, I passed, I set, and I scored. I could not believe that I had come this far. I could not believe that a little setter from East Greenwich, Rhode Island could make it playing Midwest volleyball. And yet, there I stood.

Someone once said, “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” As I set the first volleyball of my college career at home, I understood what that quote meant. I realized that all the sprints, drills, weight lifting, abdominal work, and various other small efforts were worth this one moment of satisfaction. I had been working on my footwork all pre-season so when Rita, our junior setter, called “help,” I was ready. Hearing Rita’s voice sent my mind racing. I thought of everything I had learned in pre-season. I got my feet to the ball. “Don’t forget to jump stop and put your hands up early,” I told myself. I did it. My feet were flawless, my hands were up early and the release felt so natural. My teammate, Anna Frackman, took a solid approach and BAM! We scored. I could hear Carey saying “Good feet, Wong!” Rita gave me a hug and Anna told me how a great a set it was. All of my hard work could be seen in that one perfect set. It seemed as though in that one set I knew it was all worth it. I knew all of the running, drills, and workouts were worth it.

Even though setting was my passion, I was made into a right side my freshman year. I had much to learn about the position I had once played. College setting was much different from high school or club so when they switched me to right side hitter, I knew it was the best for the team. I was excited for the challenge and appreciative of the faith my coaches had in me to attempt a new position. It was difficult for me to get used to it but again, when I got my first kill (a hit that scores); it felt amazing. It allowed me try something new and give me motivation to be a better setter at the same time. I have put more effort into being the best setter I can be because of this new assignment. Being placed in a new position has also shown me how much confidence my teammates have in me. They have supported me in the struggle and success of the transition.

Shakespeare wrote, “To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first.” In a way, I am still climbing my hill but I know when I get to the top I will be able to look back and see the hard work and effort I have put in to getting there. I do not think I could have even begun my journey up this hill without the support of my Oberlin Yeowomen teammates. In some respects, I am still a star struck freshman but in others I have matured so much and am eager for next fall to arrive. I hope as good of an upperclassman as this year’s sophomores, juniors, and senior have been to me. Oberlin College Athletics has given me my dream, unforgettable memories, and most importantly a family away from home. Next fall I hope to give back to Oberlin Athletics by embracing the next generation of the Oberlin Volleyball family.

Carey Cavanaugh, Eric Stark, and my fellow teammates have been more than just coaches and a volleyball team; they have been my family here at Oberlin. My volleyball career, previous to stepping into the Yeo Zone with Carey and Eric, had seemed as though it was at its peak. I felt I was as good as I was ever going to be. Carey and Eric seemed to disagree and saw more potential in me than I had ever seen in myself. They have pushed me mentally and physically and for that I must thank them. I am only a freshman here at Oberlin and in one fall season I have grown more as a player and as a person than I have in my six years of club and school volleyball. I have learned lessons that apply to the court but that I can use off the court as well; and to me those are the most valuable. I cannot imagine my life without Oberlin Volleyball. It has shaped who I am as a person and I could not be happier. So, thank you Oberlin Athletics...Go Yeo!