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Harris Looks Back on Special Summer

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With the beginning of the 2014 season on the horizon, Rice sophomore volleyball standout Chelsey Harris had time to look back on a summer of a lifetime that saw her play in Europe while representing the U.S. These are the words of Chelsey Harris...

I set off for the Olympic Training Center this year in Colorado Springs, CO with hopes of having a great three days of volleyball at the open tryout for the US Women's National Team. Soon after in April, I was informed that I made the roster for the U.S. Collegiate Women's National Team of 36 representatives to play in Minneapolis, MN. I was extremely thankful to know that my performance at the tryout had granted me the opportunity to perform with such amazing players and learn such amazing things from a group of awesome coaches. I was anxious, and extremely eager to get on the road and train with these athletes and experience what was considered to be another shot at trying to get on the National Team roster.

After being informed about my place on the Minneapolis roster, as well as the roster for the college national team traveling to Europe, I reflected on a previous time in which I had the opportunity to represent the U.S. in Des Moines, Iowa at the High Performance Championships at the junior level. That meant so much to me at the time, and it was a huge deal because it was then that I decided that I ultimately wanted to continue representing USA as a volleyball player. I really looked forward to representing the U.S. now that I had started my college career and I had had time to grow. I was so thankful and ecstatic knowing that my performance at the tryout in Colorado Springs had not gone unnoticed. Knowing my performance had been worthy enough to make these rosters gave me chills, because I remembered how overwhelmed I felt at the tryout. During the tryouts, I continually had thoughts about the evaluation, and how intense it must have been for the staff to somehow manage effectively evaluating over 200 players in such a small amount of time.

Reflecting on my time in Minneapolis, I would say that the time I spent there was very valuable. After a few training days, we were split off into three teams, where we would compete against one another at the Junior National Championships. As soon as my team had gotten together, it seemed like we were automatically in sync and we had it all together during the first few sessions we trained together. We were winning scrimmages and we were immediately successful. However, toward the end of the championships, we ran into trouble in terms of how we should take steps and aim toward maintaining the spark we were showing beforehand once our performance was lacking. I felt like the discussions we began to have and various expressions of each of our team's members were very similar to the discussions of our volleyball program here at Rice. It was definitely a great privilege to be able to share thoughts with these players outside of Rice, getting to establish relationships with them, and essentially getting to listen and have open dialogue about important parts of the game with them.

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The experience was very helpful for me and I've gained some great insight on the importance of becoming a great teammate and catering to a teams needs. Evaluation of what works and what doesn't for a team is extremely critical in volleyball when you have hopes of making great achievements like I do for the volleyball program at Rice. Most of the players had more years of experience, which especially made the information they were sharing with me appreciated. Even though I had less than a week between my Minneapolis trip and Europe, I had goals of keeping my insight from the Minneapolis trip in mind as I departed for my next trip.

Being selected for the College National Team European Tour to represent the U.S. overseas is without a doubt one of my biggest accomplishments. Participating in the annual Global Challenge Tournament in Pula, Croatia and having the opportunity to play under the coaching staff of UCLA's head women's volleyball coach Mike Sealy, Northern Colorado's Assistant Head Coach Jenny Glenn, and Long Island's coach Kyle Robinson was phenomenal. I realized very soon that coaching styles and attitudes of players in Europe were very different than those of the U.S.  Over the course of the two weeks I spent overseas, I developed a new appreciation for my ability to be able to play the sport I love and I learned so much about individuals that are just as passionate about volleyball as myself. I was afforded the opportunity to train and explore in multiple cities in Slovenia, Pula (Croatia) and also Venice, Italy. Being able to represent the country in such amazing places this summer has really been a blessing, and the memories I've made with the other collegiate athletes of the US will always be cherished. I can honestly say that I'm extremely happy to have been able to meet such amazing people both on and off of the court and the trips I've been on this summer have afforded me relationships that will probably last a lifetime! I'm looking forward to remaining in contact with my teammates, and keeping up with them as our seasons go on. In addition, I'm also looking forward to representing the USA more, with hopes of potentially fulfilling my goal of possibly making the women's national team roster as well. Wearing a USA jersey, giving my best effort, and going after it during practices and game time will never get old to me, and I find comfort in knowing that I have time to keep growing and working towards my goal.

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