Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By CARI GOLD
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Five University of Iowa volleyball student-athletes had an opportunity to compete at a first-class venue from March 3-5 in Colorado Springs.
Reghan Coyle, Jess Janota, Annika Olsen, Kasey Reuter, and Gabrielle Orr traveled to the Olympic Training Center to join 239 volleyball players from across the country to compete for a position on the 2017 U.S. Women’s National Team.
“It was exciting to compete at the Olympic Training Center,” said Reuter. “It’s a great atmosphere because it’s such a competitive environment. You are with a lot of the elite athletes within the volleyball world, so it’s cool to get out of your gym to play against some of the top athletes in the game.”
It was the second go-round for Olsen and Reuter, as they attended the tryouts last March. Olsen drew upon her previous experiences and entered the tryout with more confidence.
“This year, I was a lot more comfortable because I knew what to expect,” said Olsen. “I was more confident in myself. I knew what I could do and what to expect from the tryout. I had some friends on the team who had also been before so it was good to go back and know what to expect.”
For the other three Hawkeyes, it was a new experience.
“It was such an honor and kind of crazy to be with people I watched play while in high school,” said Orr. “Now I’m in college and they are seniors and are people I’m playing with. These tryouts helped me understand just how fast the game can get, which will help me moving forward.”
“It was a huge learning experience,” said Janota. “The biggest thing I learned was how to better communicate. You are so used to having the same people on your court, so learning to strengthen the communication skills will help our team this spring and next fall.”
Throughout the tryouts, the five student-athletes split into different groups. Each Hawkeye had the opportunity to work with different athletes and play atypical positions.
“The most significant thing I learned moving forward is that it’s important to step outside your comfort zone,” said Coyle. “I was asked to play positions I didn’t normally play, but I persevered with an open mind. Adding versatility to your game can only help you grow as a player, so I learned to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.”
The five student-athletes said the tryouts gave them an added sense of pride in being Hawkeyes.
“As an Iowa native myself, I felt proud to wear the tiger hawk and represent the university while competing alongside girls from all over the United States,” said Coyle.
“One of the coaches talked to (assistant) coach Michaela (Franklin),” said Reuter. “She said she could tell that all of us who were wearing Iowa gear had a unique work ethic and we were all hard workers. I think that’s a huge compliment to our program.”