CCU News / Sports and Outdoors

More Than Just An Athlete – Growing Into Volleyball

Renee Phillips is a sophomore who is not only a Strategic Communications major but also an athlete. For the past two years, she has played on the woman’s volleyball team.

Growing up, Phillips moved around a lot due to her father’s job. He worked with a water company where he distributes water to farmers all over the state of California. She also got to move to Oregon for a while. This was a fun time because she spent a lot of time with her siblings which was always a blast.

Moving around really impacted her character development in a good way.

She never really got to get grounded in any of the friend groups that she formed. However, it made the transition from Fresno to Lakewood so much easier. She viewed each move as another opportunity to start over or rebrand herself which really helped her when she was younger.

Surprisingly, Phillips did not start playing volleyball until the 7th grade which is a lot later than most players. She had a grudge against volleyball because of her height. People always made comments about how she should be playing volleyball as she was always a foot taller than her friends and classmates. She hated those comments and played every sport you can think of like horseback riding, tennis, golf, softball, and hockey.

She mentioned that before volleyball, it was softball that had her heart. It was not until the 7th grade, when her family moved to Fresno California which was the last move before she started playing. Her mom wanted her to try out for either golf, softball, or volleyball. She really liked golf but in Fresno it can get to about 100+ degrees which made her think about sticking to an indoor sport.

A key characteristic that Phillips has as an athlete is her competitive spirit.

She is able to thrive in tense and high pressure moments which her coaches have also recognized. She talked about how sometimes she develops an attitude while playing because of her competitive nature due to her past team dynamics. Phillips was able to recognize that attitude and start playing for her team instead of herself.

Phillips almost quit in 10th grade because the team dynamic was not the best. Now, playing at CCU, the team dynamic is amazing. Phillips has never been on a team that is so supportive and loving. They make each other feel so loved, accepted, and they are able to celebrate each other’s successes well.

Her faith has been strengthened by playing here. During high school, Phillips mentioned that she was not really a Christian, maybe in name but not through her actions. She has been able to switch her mindset to view playing volleyball as an act of worship instead of a self-glorifying sport.

Phillips loved that she got to see her teammates experience joy as they played volleyball being grounded in the Lord which was life changing.

Thanks Renee for sharing your story!

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