I can’t believe how fast the season has flown by. We celebrated senior day last week and played our last regular-season match at Kentucky on Wednesday. In honor of senior night versus LSU -- and with Thanksgiving this week -- I want to take a moment to reflect on what it’s meant for me, a Gainesville native, to have been a Gator and played at Florida in front of the best fans in the country at the O’Connell Center.
Words are insufficient to express how much fun I’ve had playing for the Orange and Blue over the past five years. I knew from the second I started playing volleyball there was no other program I could imagine myself playing for. Growing up in Gainesville and hearing of all the storied success the UF volleyball program has had made it obvious that playing here was something special. There's so much that goes into making this place so amazing, but I truly believe it’s the constant backing of the fans that makes the O’Dome the best venue to play college volleyball.
The generous support and loyalty Gator fans have shown me the past five years has been overwhelming. Through the shouts of victory and the tears of defeat, I never felt alone because I always had a sea of fans behind me, no matter what. The impact the Gator fans have had on my career is invaluable, and I will cherish all the love and encouragement they have given me.
I'm so thankful I was given the opportunity to play for my home town. To be able to run out on the court, look into the stands every home match and see so many excited faces of friends, family and familiar fans is one of the many reasons why I know no matter where I go in the future, I will always be able to call UF/Gainesville home.
I feel truly blessed and especially thankful for the past five years, and I hope I've made you all proud. It’s great to be a Florida Gator because of you, the fans. Thank you for your unwavering support throughout my entire career!
As a way of giving back to this special community, every year the team goes to Shands Hospital on Thanksgiving Day (or the week of if we’re on the road, like this year) and visits with some of the sick children. It’s always such a blessing to spend a little bit of our time lifting their spirits. They think we’re giving back to them, but really they give us so much more.
The most rewarding thing about doing this every year is that I come back out with such a renewed sense of thankfulness for the blessed life I live. There are so many things in life we take for granted, and this visit serves as a reminder that simply to be living and healthy is the greatest blessing one could ask for. I can’t wait to go this Sunday.
As my last regular season draws to a close, I’m still hoping to be playing volleyball for a few more weeks as we (fingers crossed) start a new “season’’ next week. I’m really proud of the way this team has finished and developed down the stretch of the SEC season, and we feel confident we are playing our best volleyball right now.
Every time tournament time rolls around it’s nerve-racking knowing every game could be your last. But “last” really has a whole new meaning for me this year. Even through the anxiety, I still can’t wait for what the future holds for us in the NCAA tournament.
Until next time, Go Gators!
“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our Thanksgiving.” -- W.T. Purkiser