Summer Series: Elliott Checks in from Minneapolis

Maryland Athletics
Print RSS

B1G changes are underway for the Maryland volleyball program. With a new coaching staff and a challenging schedule on the horizon, the Terps are poised to take the program to new heights as it transitions into the Big Ten Conference. Follow along with our weekly installment of the Maryland Volleyball Summer Series as we take an inside look at the program leading up to first serve on August 29 against Elon.

Blog: Adreene Elliott Checks in from Minneapolis

Senior Adreené Elliott is currently in Minneapolis, Minn. training with the United States Collegiate National Team. The all-conference performer from a season ago has kindly shared some of her thoughts from her experiences in Minneapolis! Check them out below!

I am blessed and highly favored. So the truth is I didn't make the team when I tried out in Februry. I tried out as a rightside and understood I was running a risk trying out for a position I lacked half of the general skillset to perform at the level the program was expecting.

I got an email back a few weeks after the period I knew was designated to notify the girls who'd made it. I didn't make it but my efforts were appreciated and I was chosen as an alternate.

While that winter break I had started to learn the power of the law of attraction and the power of the mind to manifest the behavior we wish to experience, I had not yet internalized it by the time the February tryouts came around.

Life allowed to me to learn and believe in the power of my mind in just a few months. Thank God because, a three weeks into summer, I got a call that a spot had opened up and they wanted to know if I could join them in Minneapolis.

I have a vision board I'd started right before my tryout. Though I hadn’t made it, I left my two volleyball related goals on there. One was just the ID they'd administered at the Colorado Springs tryout. The other was "I am so happy and grateful now that I am a starter on the gold medal 2020 Olympic volleyball team". Cool.

Again, I wasn't in the position to get there by my own means, but a lot of great people took care of that for me and I was here.

My goal this time around was to make the first or second team at least. There were three teams we could be placed on this year. Having made the bottom team last year, and understanding how critical each opportunity I get to perform for the USA coaches is, I only set my mind on being at least in the middle of the pack.

We played a physically tasking doubles tournament the very first day, before we were afforded any type of really formal instruction. I understand now that they wanted to see how much effort I would give to keep a ball from the hitting the floor, how much I would sacrifice my comfort for my teammate, how quickly I could bond with a new partner, my level of engagement, etc. A great deal of non-skill attribute were revealed and analyzed during the doubles tournament.

I saw that in the midst of trying to absorb as much as possible and also practice aggression I was losing something that makes me a special player which is the positive energy I offer my team. I believe that is my role -- a stabilizer. The USA coaches spoke of four roles: stud, stabilizer, leader and winner.

Lead instructors Mike [Hebert] and Bill [Neville] encouraged us to have athletic journals. I was the only one who had one at camp, and I was really curious about how I should organize the scribing of my journey. I took Bill up on his offer and reached out to him the second evening. We got to talking for nearly an hour, about journaling techniques at first, but then I probed his brain about what makes a coach say, "I want that player on my team," and nervously I asked what his initial impression was of me.

I learned a lot during our conversation, but I did take away what he did not explicitly express which was that I did not stand out to him physically/athletically. Yes, he and the coaches noticed my positivity, my chemistry with other players, my mindfulness and respect. The "you're a great person, but..." type of things. I told myself, I want to be known for both. I decided he would absolutely notice me tomorrow. And he did.

The next day I turned it up, I hadn't even seen myself play like this so consistently. I only remember glimpses throughout my athletic career. He would pull me aside on occasion to give me pointers about serving or posture, but also, he encouraged me to be bold, and stop standing in the back of the group huddles. Bill taught me, it's ok to be great, and own my talent. That I can communicate with my teammates with confidence, absent of, "My bads, my fault, could you do this maybe next time?"... a whole lot of smallness, weakness. He told me that it's characteristic of female players, yes, but I must choose to be different.

Anyhow, I've learned to be a fierce server. I learned that language, body language (my reaction to my failure or that of my teammates), and the way we talk to each other actually impacts the level of trust on the court and the intensity we sustain throughout a match. Now, instead of my fault, I say, ‘I will make a smarter shot next time guys, I've got you.’ In that way, I restore their confidence in me. I've also learned, ok, you've made a mistake, you took a risk and it didn't work, so what?

Being an athlete, yes it's not easy, taking care of the amount of lifting, conditioning, training, studying the game you must do to be ready for competition. The amount of dedication and time it takes it's not easy, but I'm learning, it's not necessarily hard. Not if I don't want it to be. Most importantly, I'm learning that the amount of time I dedicate to all of the physical aspects of the game pale in comparison to the time I must commit to the mere training of my mind.

Constantly cancelling the defeatist thoughts that creep in, being aware of what my body and language convey to my teammates, concreting a routine and checklist before serving. Harnessing the mind to execute the little things, the pre-performance work, almost seems more tasking, for the time being.

I made the top team this year, and ya'll, I didn't make the original roster. I was an alternate. And at times I think, oh boy, I can't lose what I've got. Then I remember something my coach used to tell me...

"Ye'aint done anything yet." So, until I've accepted the gold medal on that podium for the 2020 Olympic championship, and used that platform to inspire young girls in a big way, well, I ain't done anything yet.