Finals week is the only thing standing between most students and the start of summer break. The Marquette volleyball team may be looking forward to the summer months more than anyone.
During the school year, student-athletes have rigorous schedules with little downtime. The combination of class, study halls, practice, travel and games can leave players very eager for the third week of May.
Volleyball players head in to summer with little on their schedules. Most players take only one class and there is more leisure time than usual.
“It is not very difficult balancing one class,” said sophomore defensive specialist Rachel Stier. “We like the summer because we get to explore Milwaukee, go to the beach and live like a normal person.”
The resounding topic from every volleyball player was the chance to play at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee or on the sand courts at the Rec Center on campus.
Getting a chance to play volleyball without coaches correcting them or in loud gyms is something each player savors.
“It’s kind of funny how when we don’t have volleyball, we want to play volleyball,” said sophomore libero Julie Jeziorowski. “The beach is more free and people get upset because we always beat them.”
It’s not all fun and games at the beach for the team. The players realize it’s an opportunity to hone their skills as they prepare for the fall season.
“For open gyms, instead of having them inside in a gym like we always do, we go to the Rec or down to Bradford Beach,” said redshirt junior right-side Holly Mertens. “It helps us with our technical skills in a different atmosphere.”
The volleyball team also does something unique for a major college team. Each year, the Golden Eagles host a grass tournament at Bradford called Triplesfest. The event is a fundraiser of sorts for the team.
The tournament normally runs during the same time as Summerfest and gives teams a chance to check out some of the live bands in between matches.
The players work the event in various positions giving them a chance to be involved with the Milwaukee community.
The team also works at summer camps for girls third grade to high school seniors. The team gets a chance to teach younger players about their positions and as a part of multi-day camps.
The summer is also an opportunity for the incoming players to get used to their new school.
The athletes take a few classes with mandatory study halls as they get acclimated to Marquette. The current players use this time to help the fresh faces prepare for the fall.
“It’s nice to play with them and get some chemistry going,” Mertens said. “We get to teach them technique and what we are looking for so they are ready for it in the fall.”
Not a lot changes for most college students in the summer, but for student-athletes, it is a two month period where they take full advantage of the opportunity to get away from the pressure of being a Division 1 player.