“Playing in the NCAA tournament was such a surreal experience. We traveled to Baylor where we played Colorado for the first round of the tournament and it was an amazing way to show our fans how hard we had worked as a team the entire season,” stated Meyer. “The competition was very tough and just having the opportunity to play such elite teams is an experience I will never forget.”
by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor Photos: Geoff Schneider/Sports Union Not every athlete wants their career to end with injuries. Not every athlete wants their career to just abruptly end. But, that’s what some college athletes were dealing with last year as Covid was about to disrupt everything. With leaves canceling seasons, or pushing them to the spring, it was a tough chose to be a student-athletes. They had a lot on their plate that just didn’t have to do with sports and academics. It could get overwhelming at times. Normally a fall sport, volleyball was one of those sports that was effected by the global pandemic. The fall season was canceled as schools, and health officials, tried to get a read on what to do when it came to the pandemic. Finally, volleyball got the go ahead in the spring - but on a limited basis. Current Daemen College volleyball player Caitlyn Meyer went through all of that last year. The going to play, not going to play was hard to take sometimes. Meyer just wanted to get back on the court with her teammates at James Madison after the year prior where she battled injuries.
“I've definitely struggled with injuries over the past five years, but luckily I’ve had some amazing athletic trainers that have helped me work through them to keep me on the court. I’ve spent countless hours in the training room doing rehab for past injuries and even more lifting and stretching to prevent new ones,” stated Meyer. “It has been so important to take care of my body by eating the right things, icing when I need it, and making sure I get enough sleep, especially when we have 6 a.m. practices or lifts.” While at James Madison Meyer was able to experience what few college athletes can - she was able to take part in the NCAA DI Volleyball Tournament. The experience was something that she will never forget. While James Madison didn’t go on to win the National Championship, Meyer will take this memories with her for the rest of her life. Just being able to travel to Baylor and take on Colorado in the first round is something she will never forget. “Playing in the NCAA tournament was such a surreal experience. We traveled to Baylor where we played Colorado for the first round of the tournament and it was an amazing way to show our fans how hard we had worked as a team the entire season,” stated Meyer. “The competition was very tough and just having the opportunity to play such elite teams is an experience I will never forget.” After four years at James Madison, Meyer was ready for a new challenge. She knew she wasn’t done with volleyball just yet. She still had a lot to give back to the sport that has given her so much over the years. So, midway through her senior season, Meyer decided she was going to play a graduate year at Daemen College. The girl who cut her volleyball teeth playing in Western New York - and at St. Mary’s High School, was coming home again. “I didn’t really make the decision to play at Daemen until half way through my senior season at JMU. With the season being shortened due to COVID and fighting through injuries for the year prior, I just didn’t feel like my career could be over just yet. I had already decided that I wanted to come back to Buffalo to be closer to family and friends after graduation, and because I gained an extra year of eligibility due to COVID, I decided I would play one more year and pursue my MBA,” stated Meyer. “Coach Steph reached out to me shortly after I put my name in the transfer portal and I soon realized that Daemen could be a great place for me to play a fifth year. Daemen has the Master’s program I was searching for and is close enough that I can live at home and be with family, which ultimately led me to my choice to play at Daemen for my fifth year.”
Like any new transfer there was some trepidation in the beginning. Coming to a new team is never easy. Coming to a new team for just one year in a little harder. Those players have been working hard for four years - and to have someone come in and potentially upset the apple cart is a tough thing. But, the girls where anything but put off by Meyers. They welcomed her with open arms - which made the transition a lot easier. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have any reservations about joining a brand new team. I was nervous about how the girls would view me because I’d only be on the team for one semester and because I would soon be the oldest one, but I honestly could not have asked for a more welcoming and trusting team. The team made me feel right at home from day one and have been nothing but supportive since,” stated Meyer. “Having previous relationships with a few of the girls from club and high school made the transition much easier as well.” What also made it easier for Meyer is that fact she gets to play her games at home in front of family and friends. Not since her days at St. Mary’s had Meyer been able to play in front of the home crowd. It has been four long years to finally here the cheers of the Western New York community. “It’s such a great feeling to be able to have all of my friends and family at games. It was hard the past four years for anyone to come watch games and I love that they have the chance to now,” stated Meyer. “I feel so lucky to have most of my family here in Buffalo to support me for my last season.” It has been an amazing ride for Meyer throughout her time playing the sport that she loves. I’m sure at times she would have liked to kick volleyball to the curb, especially when injuries take a toll on the body. But, she just kept plugging along, and made herself into one of the best high school volleyball players in the WNY - and one of the best college players. When she finally does call it career, after what she hopes is after a long playoff run with the Wildcats, Meyer will look back fondly on everything she has learned on and off the court. “I have learned so much in the past five years both on and off the court that will stay with me forever. I have learned to manage my time, communicate better, be a better leader, and have also learned how amazing it is to work in a team,” stated Meyer. “I have met some of my best friends and future bridesmaids through the sport and have learned so much about myself and what kind of person I want to be. The relationships I have gained through volleyball are definitely the best thing I will be taking away from playing the sport I love the past 14 years.” She hopes the love of the sport will translate to coaching. Like most former athletes, Meyer is hoping to make the transition to becoming a coach after her time is done. Meyer has learned a lot over the years playing the sport - and she wants to give back. Meyer wants to teach great crop of young players. She wants to show them what it takes to get to the next level. “After my volleyball career is over, I would love to get into coaching. Playing five years at a collegiate level has left me with so much knowledge about the sport and I would love to share that with younger girls hoping to play in college,” stated Meyer. “I love teaching others what I have learned and hope that someday I can help some players reach their goals both on and off the court. I will also be searching for a job as a business, data, or systems analyst in the near future. My undergraduate degree is in Computer Information Systems, and I am currently pursuing my MBA, so I feel confident that I can use the skills I have learned in school to be a great asset for any company.”