Thriving under pressure
by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor
Photos: Buffalo State Athletics
Pressure. It’s something that can take some of the best people and make them think twice about themselves. Not everyone is built for the pressure that comes with being a student-athlete.
The time commitment it takes to be one of the best at their position on the field, and in the classroom. The pressure of trying to be the best, and working at their craft, can weigh heavily on their shoulders. But, not everyone crumbles under the pressure of being one of the best. Those who thrive under the pressure can became one of the great.
If you are a fan of volleyball, one will know that the setter is the most important player on the team. They are involved in every aspect of the game, both offense and defense. They are the quarterback of the team.
If the quarterback is having a bad game the team normally won’t win. Same goes for the the setter. If he, or she, is off then the entire is offense. Bad passes equal bad spikes and so on and so on.
“Being a setter is a very difficult position that comes with a lot of pressure. You must have accurate, consistent sets when it comes to all your sets,” stated Buffalo State College volleyball player Abby Verner. “When people ask what a setter is, I compare it to the quarterback position on a football team. They are the playmaker on the team, and they have control over the whole offense. Every position is hard but there would be no consistency in the game without a setter.”
Verner is used to pressure. She dealt with it playing multiple sports at Trinity High School in Washington, PA. Pressure comes with the territory when playing at the highest level. Verner won’t sugar coat it, there are times getting on that court can be stressful.
It’s how she can handle the stress that’s what separates her from the rest. Learning with the stress of sports has allowed Verner to deal with everyday life. And, as we all know, everyday life can be very stressful at times.
“Pressure is a normal thing I’ve dealt with in all sports. Being in a competitive environment where sports provide not only taught me how stressful it can be but also taught me how to handle that stress daily,” stated Verner. “I’ve turned that pressure into motivation to be a better person and player to succeed. Learning how to deal with the stress of sports have taught me to deal with it outside of sports whether it be in a classroom or just doing my day-to-day routine.”
With so much emphasize being put on mental health as of late, being able to get away from the every day rigors of life, and school, is important. For some, sports are a way to “clear” the mind and recharge from the everyday life that school needs to brings.
It can get hectic at times for student-athletes like Verner. She needs to find her escape. Her escape just happens to be the volleyball court. That’s where she finds she is relaxed, and just focuses on the game that she loves.
“Mental health is an important topic in athletics, and it is important to take time to focus on yourself. You must focus on your own mental health and even on your teammates. Honestly, the pressure part aside, volleyball is my escape from school. It gives me this space where I don’t need to worry about anything other than volleyball and playing the sport I love,” stated Verner. “Being around a group of girls makes me feel at ease during my day, but also outsid
e of volleyball, there is a time when you need to relax and refresh yourself.”
Verner knows her college career will be over in a flash. While she played a lot as a freshman last year, Verner was also injured. Being injured allowed her to sit back and realize how fast time goes by, and how fast four years will be over before you know.
It also gave her the motivation to work as hard as she could to get back out there on the court with her teammates. No one wants to sit on the sidelines, feeling helpless, while the rest of her teammates are out there competing to win matches.
“I was injured last year, and it made me realize that I have limited time playing a college sport. It gave me the motivation to work as hard as I could because you never know what’s going to happen next,” stated Verner. “Whether it be an injury, or a season being canceled. Also, I focused a lot of the pressure on myself and used it in a positive way, where I asked coaches for help and what I could improve on. Being on a supportive team really kept me going through my injury and all the pressure behind being a freshman.”
Despite the injury, Verner still excelled during her freshman season. Like most freshman, Verner had to get used to the speed of the game. High School volleyball will move a little slower compared to college.
In college, it’s the best of the best from every high school. With fewer bodies at her position, Verner was able to get one-on-one coaching, which helped her with the speed, and the understanding, of the game.
“Playing a lot last year as a freshman, I never realized how fast the game was in comparison to high school. Playing with returners showed me a glimpse of how fast our games were going to be against other teams,” stated Verner. “Being in a position with an important job, but wither fewer bodies, gave me the chance to get more reps and focus from all the coaches. It all helped me transition into the fast game of volleyball.”
Buffalo State was a no-brainer for Verner, who was coming from PA. She fell in love Buffalo, with the community and the college campus. Verner wanted to make sure you wouldn’t get stuck on campus all the time, and new Buffalo State, and Buffalo, was for her.
“I grew up in PA, but I knew for college that I wanted to go somewhere new. My father lives up here and it is like my second home. I’ve been up here so many times in my life that it felt like a good place to look into. I think what really drew me into Buffalo was how much there was to do outside of campus,” stated Verner. “I wanted to go somewhere where I would not be stuck on campus all day doing nothing. I also wanted to go somewhere that was very welcoming and had a good academic program. I took a tour and fell in love with the facilities here. I have loved my time here so far. It’s been very fun and exciting to visit somewhere new and to call it my home. I’ve met so many new people and have had the experience of living by myself. Lastly, I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else but Buffalo State.”