2010- Volley Rebuilds Behind Freshman

By Kevin Lewis

Nicolette Gebhardt never thought she’d pick up a sport, but saw her friends playing volleyball and figured, “Hey, why not give it a try?”

It certainly sounds like a wise decision.

Now she is a standout freshman volleyball player in her first semester at Mercy College. “I started playing at age 11, but never really thought I’d play organized ball or anything,” said Gebhardt. “All of my friends starting playing, so I did as well.”

Being a freshman in college is an adjustment period on many levels, and that includes athletics. Getting used to new people, new surroundings and how to balance school work and a social life can be a daunting task for some. It’s no different than a player getting drafted to a professional team in any of the major sports. It takes time to adjust.

“Playing in college is so much different than high school because it is such an adjustment. In college you’re on your own and starting all over,” said Gebhardt.

The camaraderie and chemistry of the team are important as sometimes those two things can determine the outcomes of games and seasons. It can sometimes be tough to form that cohesiveness with a group of new faces and it takes time.

“You’re basically creating a new family, and getting acclimated to the different members of the team. The level of play is also a lot better, it’s a step up from high school and there is such great competition,” said Gebhardt. “The toughest challenge is definitely adapting to the other members of team and the coach’s style.”

Gebhardt is still adjusting to her surroundings and so far is making it easier than it looks.

“Playing volleyball is honestly a lot harder than it looks,” said Gebhardt. “Any team could have such talent, but if they aren’t clicking mentally, everything is going to crumble. Communication is the key, and that is one of the most challenging aspects so far,” said Gebhardt.

With any team there are players that play roles and those players have different philosophies and mentalities that ultimately make them different. Gebhardt’s approach to the sport and the team are fairly simple.

“My philosophy is to just play my game, and play it like it’s my last,” said Gebhardt. “I just want to play my part and hope that everything else falls into place.”

With all that is going on with the team, and her adjustment to college, Gebhardt still manages to keep it light, and is appreciative for where she is.

“While there is an adjustment period, I’m still having a lot of fun,” said Gebhardt. “It’s new being given a chance to play at such a high level. I have a lot to learn but ultimately I’m very excited to see how the team turns out.”

As it usually is with a neophyte and other young players, there is certainly room for improvement. It’s a different ball game with the transition Gebhardt has had to make in a fairly short period of time.

“As a player what I think I can improve is my general focus during games,” said Gebhardt. “I’d like to ultimately be able to shake things off and move on to the next play,”

What are Gebhardt’s goals for the season?

“My goals are to be an all around player, and never let the small mess ups get me out of my game and my comfort zone. And in the end I want this team to be a big family because once we have that cohesiveness everything else will fall into place,” said Gebhardt.

The volleyball squad has had a difficult time stringing together victories this season, as its loss at Southern Connecticut put it at 3-20 on the season.