Finding a home
By Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor Photos: Texas A&M Corpus Christi
For s athlete, finding a home after high school is not an easy decision. The recruiting process can be difficult, and can have many winding roads. As an athlete, there are many factors that go into the right college.
It could be as simple as living close to home, or the right fit academically and athletically. College coaches expect student-athletes to make decisions right away. Some athletes make a decision on where they are going to school while still a freshman in high school.
That isn’t an easy decision for anyone to make. Trying to decide where you are heading to college before you are even ready to take a class in high school in asking a lot of a young athlete.
Maryvale High School isn’t known for producing Division I in volleyball. Volleyball in general in Western New York is on the upcoming and coming stages. But, if you think of Division I talent, and volleyball, many would like at the schools like St. Mary’s High School, Eden or even Clarence. Schools that are bigger and play tougher competition.
“While I think that going to a more athletically known school would have benefitted me, I would have lost a lot of the life lessons that I learned and experienced through attending a smaller, less well known school like Maryvale,” stated Carter. “I am happy that I chose to graduate from Maryvale, and that I was still able to achieve my goals there, even though it may have been the harder route.”
Maryvale, however, had something special in Julia Carter. Carter, who grew up in Southern California, was a star on the volleyball court. So much so that other schools wanted her for her talents.
Her talents on the court at Maryvale, and for her club team - Niagara Frontier Volleyball - got the colleges noticing her. Recruiting efforts ramped up and colleges from all over the country wanted her talents.
“My recruiting process was a little bit out of the ordinary from some others. I had committed to Syracuse the summer after my sophomore year, which was a huge decision for me. Later, the fall of my senior year, I made the choice to decommit from there for a few different reasons,” stated Carter. “After this I came in contact with many different coaches, and weeks later committed and signed with Texas A&M- Corpus Christi. While this was a difficult time for me and hard decision, I would not have traded it for the world. I think that it is important to remember as an athlete that each persons recruitment process is different, and ultimately making a choice that makes you happiest is most important.”
It wasn’t an easy decision for Carter. She pledges her loyalty to a school early on in the process. But, something that just didn’t feel right. Syracuse was a great school, and plays its volleyball in the highly competitive ACC.
For Carter, however, she wasted a different challenged. She was to experience life a little further from home. She wanted a chance to see the country and experience new cultures and new things. That led her to Texas.
“While going through what was my second recruiting process, I decided that I wanted to go further away from home than I did before. I wanted to experience a new part of the country and meet new people,” stated Carter. “After talking to many coaches on the phone, what really sold me on TAMUCC was the conversation that I had with our head coach. He is a great guy and really easy to talk to. I later visited there and knew that it would be a great fit for me. The school sits on an island in the Gulf of Mexico and even has a beach on campus, which I LOVE. Overall the staff, team and program that TAMUCC offers is a great fit for me.”
Carter wasn’t going to TAMUCC to sit on the bench, either. She was expected to contribute right away, and that’s exactly what she did.
Carter earned valuable playing time last year as a freshman. She had her typical growing pains like any freshman would have She went from dominating games against Cheektowaga to finding her way on the court.
But, the experience was something that you couldn’t teach.
“I am very thankful for the playing time that I earned this year as a freshman. Although, many of my experiences playing throughout the season may not have gone as well as I would have liked, I was able to grow as a player and a person a lot,” stated Carter. “Most of the game is mental, so being young does make an impact of consistency and things of that nature I believe. So, having that much playing time under my belt going into my sophomore year can only help in my growth as a player. I think that I have developed and will continue to develop a confidence in my game that would not have been there before.”
This offseason was different for Carter than most. After a year of playing college volleyball, Carter knew what to expect. She knew what she needed to work on to have a very successful sophomore season.
She also had a year of Texas under her belt. Growing up in Southern California, Carter was used to the heat. Carter also had a year to get used to living away from home. She enjoys Texas, and all that has to offer. Going away to college has also made her enjoy her time coming back to Buffalo and visiting family when she can.
“In offseason I think that I had a lot to work on, but there is always something that can be improved. Right now I am really working on going into preseason in the best shape that I can. I hope to improve my skills with passing and defense so that I can help my team with being a consistent six rotation outside hitter this season. I am also working to improve my confidence in myself and my game. Right now a lot of my struggles are simply because of confidence,” stated Carter. “I have had a great transition to Texas. It is hard being away from home, and took a lot of adjustment, but it makes the time that I do get to spend at home and with my family even better. As for weather I am originally from Southern California, and lived there until about third grade, when we later moved here. So although it is much hotter and more humid in Texas I enjoy it.”