Last weekend, I had an incredible experience. Not only did I participate in the AVCA Phenom College Preparatory Program, I also was able to help make history as one of the over 17,500 spectators to watch the Finals – the biggest crowd to watch a NCAA volleyball game. The NCAA finals this year was an amazing experience. It was amazing to see so many fans in one building. There was so much red – the Nebraska fans came out in the thousands. It was also amazing to see Texas fans travel to cheer on their Longhorns.

My favorite part of the weekend, apart from the Finals, was seeing the Under Armour High School All-Americans play. It was cool to see the players compete for other titles, like “Best Setter”, during their game play intermission. The most exciting was when I cheered on the hitters to see who could hit the ball the fastest. The winner was Khalia Lanier, which made me happy because I said she would win. It also was inspiring to see Morgan Hentz the West team’s libero, play. She never gave up on any ball. She wasn’t satisfied unless she got a touch on every ball that she went for.

The Phenom Program was also fun. A lot like USAV’s High Performance program, I was able to meet girls from all over the country. I met people from states I’ve never been to, like Arizona and Michigan, and I met even more from Texas. I also was able to use some new technology. I got to test my speed using a machine that timed when I took my foot off a sensor on the ground, to when I tripped a laser beam – a lot like the one that keeps your garage door from closing on your car if you haven’t pulled all the way in or out. I also got to test out a device that measured how fast I swing my arm when I hit the ball, and I tested another machine that tests how hard I hit the ball and at what height I hit the ball the hardest. In the classroom sessions, I was able to hear Stacy Sykora’s amazing, life-changing story from the Stacy Sykora about living in the “now”, talk to college All-Americans, and learn about myself as a person and what happens when I get into stressful situations. Apparently, I should own a convertible (hint, hint Mom).

Overall it was a weekend that was filled with a lot of fun. I learned that my block touch has increased by 2.5 inches to 9’ 7.5” – that’s higher than 80% of the 900 college volleyball players in the avcaVPI database. I also need to do some speed training. Still, I’m excited to use the things I learned in the upcoming 2016 club season. I’m grateful for the experience.