Just a few weeks after their last match as college athletes, the seniors on the volleyball team talked to The Hilltop Monitor to share their thoughts on the William Jewell College volleyball program, their experience as student-athletes and their hopes for the future.
Three of the seniors confessed to not know much about the volleyball program before coming to Jewell, while Olivia Tolberd, senior mathematics and psychology major, said she knew the challenges that she would face. But, all of them were driven to come here because of Jewell’s academics.
“I honestly did not look too much into the program itself before I came here. I saw the campus, fell in love and enjoyed coach, and the fact that Jewell gives an amazing reputation once graduated,” said Jenna Rau, senior psychology and Applied Critical Thought and Inquiry (ACT-In) major.
“To be honest, I did not know about Jewell. I did my research on the school because I was looking for a good nursing program where I could also play volleyball competitively,” shared senior Raechel Meisinger, nursing major.
“Before I came here I didn’t really have any initial thoughts, it was more the fact that I got to play a sport that I love while also coming to get the degree I wanted. So before I came I never really looked at their record – I just met the coaches and some of the girls and I really liked them,” said Stefanie Richterkessing, senior nursing and ACT–In major.
“Coming in I knew that it was going to be – start from the bottom and like kinda growing, like building something. So kinda like, ‘it’s a challenge,’” said Tolberd.
As any team, professional or collegiate, the volleyball team went through some tough times and it is unanimous that communication was key to solve the problems they went through. Being there for each other was also a major influence.
“We pushed each other, on and off the court, in the weight room and we were all on the same page about building this program from the bottom with Coach Raynes,” mentioned Rau.
After four years as Cardinals they agree about the progress the team has made and how proud they are to have been a part of it. Rau, Richterkessing and Meisinger shared their gratitude for how the program has changed them as individuals and taught them things they will take for the rest of their lives.
“Now I’m super glad I was a part of a program focused on the women we were becoming so that in the future we’re strong people who can face any type of diversity that arises,” said Richterkessing.
Concerning the future, they hope for the program to keep improving and for their younger teammates to maintain the standards they’ve implemented themselves. Tolberd shared her high hopes for the team and the freshman that still have a lot to learn.
“My expectations for the future program is to hold themselves to our standard [CARDS], which is courageous, authentic, respectful, devotion and strength,” commented Meisinger.
Regarding the support they have had from Jewell as student-athletes, their experiences vary. Meisinger said she had amazing nursing professors that gave her a lot of support in the classrooms and courts. Tolberd and Rau said they had problems with professors that would doc points from them even if they missed class for volleyball or situations that a professor didn’t give the extra help needed or asked for.
“I think definitely it has [been given more support] more recently than it has on the past. More and more students are kind of bringing their concerns to their coaches and to their professors,” Richterkessing said of Jewell’s support for student-athletes.
With the future right ahead of them, these seniors shared what they’re going to miss about the volleyball team and their college experience as a whole.
“The continuous workouts, especially the 800, hanging out with my teammates and friends, my amazing nursing professors for their support and pushing through the volleyball and class challenges that have made me stronger physically and mentally,” said Meisinger.
“The non-stop love and support this team gives us. The lifelong friendships are what made me love this sport so much. I am going to miss turning to my teammates after each point in the huddle, cheering and yelling because one of us did something amazing, and seeing their faces light up because we are all doing something we love,” said Rau.
“I’m gonna miss the most the girls you know, you can’t really compare them to anyone else. I’ve learned so much throughout my journey here – the coaches also, just because their main objective for us was to find out who we truly are, so we can become the women we want to be. But also the goofy laughter, you know, being silly and knowing that no one judges you. Just the great atmosphere,” said Richterkessing.
“I’ll definitely miss the people the most. Because being on a team you just grow so close to those people. You literally share your life with them for how long you are in season and outside the season. You just grow through the hardships of being tired and all. But also just the feeling you get, like the adrenaline rush you get when you’re playing,” said Tolberd.