By Meredith Foster Ristic
Senior Rachel Wells returned home from the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs after competing for a spot on USA’s national volleyball team.
“It was the best experience of my life,” Wells said. “It was a lifelong dream made into reality.”
Wells has been playing volleyball since she was in the 4th grade and reaching the try-out was the pinnacle of her 13 year career.
“I feel like I’ve given so much time and effort and dedication to volleyball over the years, and this was a time that I felt like volleyball was really giving back,” she said.
Wells said that she left the try-outs feeling really good about volleyball and the mark she left on the game. She will be notified about the results of the try-outs via email in a few weeks.
“I don’t know what’s going to come of the try-outs,” Wells said “But, if this is the end of my career, then it’s the best way I could go out. I feel like I left everything on the court.”
The first two days of the try-out consisted of physical fitness testing and skill drills. On the third day the players were divided into teams and played six-on-six.
“It’s frustrating when you’re rotating on and off the court in the drills,” she commented. “I just wanted to be in there the whole time so I could show them everything I could do.”
The open try-out attracted players from universities all over the United States.
“Everyone had the same conditions, circumstances and court time as I did,” she said. “I decided that I was just going to do the best that I could with the opportunities I was given.”
As a libero, one of Wells’ main focuses was communicating with the other players on her court, she said.
“Part of putting it all out there for me was trying to set myself apart from the other girls by my personality on the court,” Wells commented. “I’ve developed into a talkative person, so it was easy for me to communicate and get excited.”
No matter what, Wells says she plans to have volleyball in her future.
“If any opportunities arise through the connections I made then I will be happy to follow them,” she said. “If I can, I will try to play. Right now, I’m studying to teach high school, and I plan to coach volleyball wherever I’m at.”
The best part for Wells was all the love and encouragement she received from her Asheville family, she said.
“It was such a great feeling to know I have so much support while I was out there. It seemed like everything just came together perfectly for me at the right time. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity,” Wells said.