Fernanda Bartels, Broadside Correspondent

Being a student-athlete is not easy. We have to work our classes and homework around practice, weight lifting, team duties, rehabilitation, icing, stretching and a to-do list that never seems to end. When I finally take a breath, I used to start questioning myself: Why do I spend all my time and energy playing volleyball?

The answer came to me a few years ago during a match. One of my teammates hit an incredible ball crosscourt on an angle that I thought was impossible to be reached. We got the point. I looked at her and she had a delightful smile on her face.

All my teammates were celebrating like there was nothing better in the world than that point. The feeling that I had that day was worth all the hard work, the sweat left on the court and the hours dedicated to volleyball. On that play, I realized that I practice for those moments.

Another situation during this season reminded me of the reason why I play volleyball. In our first match of the season against American University in the D.C. Volleyball Challenge, our head coach Pat Kendrick spoke to us before the game, as is our routine.

Along with years of experience as a player, Kendrick is entering her 25th season as the head coach at George Mason University. After talking about the strengths of our group and tactics for the match, Kendrick looked at us and said, “You guys got to play volleyball tonight!” Her eyes were glowing, and she had a big smile on her face. We all knew that there was nothing else Kendrick would rather be doing than coaching and playing volleyball.

Her eyes had something innocent and young about them, even after all those years dedicated to the sport. You could see her passion for volleyball through them. For me, there is nothing more inspiring than that.

Passion is what makes athletes overcome intense injuries, keep on going when you hit your limit, never give up, reach the unreachable, break records, or play a sport for 50 years and never get tired of it.

Passion is a fire inside you that tells you that you have no limit. Our best moments come from passionate actions. If you have a passion, no matter what it is—you know what I am talking about.

Volleyball is my passion. It has been my passion for the last nine years and it is part of who I am. I come from a family of volleyball players; my grandmother is almost 70 years old and she still plays volleyball.

During this semester, I want to share my passion for volleyball with you; including all the insights, struggles and joy of a student-athlete life.

About the Writer: Fernanda Bartels is a setter for the women’s volleyball team. She is a junior and is a communication major.