Giving it her all
by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor
Photos: Geoff Schneider/Sports Union
It is becoming more common for student-athletes to take a step back and look at their options more when it comes to college.
It used to be where a student-athlete would play their high school career and then move right on to a four-year college where they may or may not play of a couple of years. Sitting on the bench is not ideal, but understood when you attend a four-year institution.
However, to be able to hone, and advance, your skills, many athletes now are starting to choose the community college route. There they have the best of both world. They are able to get playing time for the next two years while also getting acclaimed to college life.
Former Buffalo State College volleyball player Kirstie Hall did exactly that. After a solid career at Frontier High School, Hall still knew she wanted to play at the next level. Instead of deciding on a school that could have been a wrong fit, Hall chose to head to Erie Community College for the first couple of years of career.
“Being at Erie for two years really helped me develop as a player. I was able to play with and against some really good players,” stated Hall. “We played some amazing teams and was able to win some hard games. It definitely got me ready for the competition. We would work on technique every practice which only made us better. We were able to make it to regionals both my years at Erie. That experience was amazing and I will never forget that feeling.”
While at ECC, Hall played as an outside hitter for the Kats. She basically just continued what she started while at Frontier. She knew the position and was good at what she doing. After her two years was up it was time to look for a different school.
Hall chose to stay close to home and went to Buffalo State College. The volleyball program has had its struggles over the years, but Hall was ready to contribute anyway she could. What she didn’t know was that she was going to have to change positions.
Hall went from outside hitter to a defensive specialist. Learning a new position is never easy. Learning a new position when only having two years left in your college career is extremely hard. There was a transition period there as Hall had to retrain herself on the fly.
“Making the transition from Erie to Buffalo State was definitely a change. I went from a starting outside hitter at Erie to needing to learn a whole new position. At Erie I would play all the way around so I knew a bit about being a defensive player, but Buffalo State definitely was able to get me to where I needed to be defensively,” stated Hall. “The change was definitely intimidating, ever since I started playing volleyball I was always up at the net but I learned to love playing defense. Getting a hard hit up gave me such an adrenaline rush.”
For Hall her first year at Buffalo State didn’t go as planned. Wanting to make a different right away, Hall had to miss time due to a torn quad injury. It was frustrating for Hall because she was a learning a new position at the time, and she wanted to help the team win.
But, being injured may have been a blessing in disguise as she was able to sit and watch her teammates in action. She was able to watch film on what she needed to learn about the positions, and by watching from the bench she was able to see a different view of the game as a whole.
“My two years playing at Buffalo State I was able to play with some great defensive players. We all were able to work together and learn from each other. During some practices we were able to be filmed so we could see what we were doing right and learn from our mistakes which had definitely helped to excel,” stated Hall. “ At the beginning of my junior year, my first year at Buffalo State, I unfortunately tore my quad during preseason. While I was recovering I was able to watch my teammates and learn from them so when I came back I could be the best I could for my team. It was a tough recovery but I came back with the knowledge and motivation I needed from studying my teammates.”
Hall even admits it was an up and down four year college career. Between transferring to different schools, learning new positions on the court and just the daily grind of every day college life.
However, if there was constant through al lot it it was volleyball. Volleyball was here home away from home. Whatever might have been going on throughout her day, Hall knew that volleyball was there to get her through it.
She made a lot of friends, and connections, during her time on the court. Connections she may have not of made if not for the sport.
“My four years of college had many ups and downs but there was always one constant which was volleyball. I remember finally making the decision to play college volleyball, I couldn’t imagine stopping my athletic career after high school,” stated Hall. “I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do so I decided to go with Erie for my first two years then transfer to Buffalo State. I have made many great connections with people and it has opened many opportunities for me including coaching and working camps for kids. The opportunity of playing a collegiate sport is something I would never trade for anything.”
Now that time is over. After many years of playing the sport she loves, Hall’s time as a collegiate athlete has come to an end. It’s been little tough in the beginning knowing that when practice starts up again she won’t be a part of it.
But, this isn’t the end of the volleyball journey for Hall. She will still play the sport she has given everything to just maybe more for fun then for the wins and loses. She is a competitive person and needs to still play the game.
Now, it will just be more on the recreational side.
“Now that my collegiate athletic career has ended I have gone back to work but I still plan to keep playing volleyball and get involved with volleyball activities as much as I can. I know many of my teammates who graduated are looking to get into a league to keep playing! I would join leagues on my off season so I could get some touches in so I don’t think that will ever change for me,” stated Hall. As long as I can remember I’ve been playing sports. It’s crazy to think that I had my last practice and my last game day. Volleyball was my escape, no matter what kind of day I was having knew being with my teammates and playing the sport I love would immediately put me into a better mood. It’s going to be weird adapting to a life without competitive volleyball but playing in leagues and tournaments will definitely help fill that spot.”