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#MyWheaton Blog

Posted September 28, 2016 by
Tags: Athletics My Wheaton

My Cross-Cultural Experience with Wheaton Volleyball

When I was considering which college to go to, I knew I wanted to go to a school that would grow me spiritually as well as challenge me academically. Because my parents both went to Wheaton and my sister was attending at the time, I heard nothing but good things about it. After I was accepted, God continued to open doors making it very clear to me that Wheaton was where he wanted me to be. 

My high school volleyball coach was very optimistic about my athletic abilities and constantly pushed me to reach out to college coaches, but I was hesitant because I recognized that my experience playing for my small international high school in Japan was probably not enough to be successful at college ball. However, when I visited my sister at Wheaton, I reached out to Coach Brittany Smith and told her about my reservations toward playing in college. She was so understanding and assured me that with training, she could help me develop the confidence and skills needed to play competitively. After talking with her, I knew that if I played volleyball in college, I wanted to play for her. When she later offered me a spot, I accepted. 

The highlight of my involvement with Wheaton’s volleyball program so far was the mission trip to Israel/Palestine that we took at the end of summer 2015. During this ten-day trip, we had the privilege of running volleyball camps for girls ages 4-13, playing volleyball with the Palestinian women’s team, visiting the holy sites, and building relationships with the people we met while also learning about the conflict there. Together we wrestled through difficult questions while growing closer to each other as a team and making memories that will last a lifetime. 

 There is something so special about being on a team of women united for one purpose: to use our gifts to bring glory to God while competing to win. This purpose has fostered a deep trust among us, and has provided many opportunities to hold each other accountable to the standards that we have set. Never have I been so encouraged and supported by a group of women, nor have I been so pushed, challenged, and stretched. 

I love that I grew up in Japan, and I take pride in sharing my culture with others. Although this upbringing made adjusting to collegiate volleyball challenging, it has allowed me to be more sympathetic and aware of other cultures around me. There are definitely many challenges that come from playing collegiate volleyball, but through these I have learned about leadership, perseverance, strength, service, and drive. I have never experienced such genuine friendships and am so thankful for this opportunity that has grown me and blessed me so much over the past three years. 

Katie Rohrer '18 is an elementary education major and hopes to become an elementary school teacher to encourage students from all backgrounds. She is a third year player for Wheaton's varsity volleyball team and recorded 65 kills last season. Photo captions (from top to bottom): Katie with the team on senior night, the final game of the 2015 season; Wheaton volleyball players with the Palestinian women’s team during a summer mission trip in 2015; members of Wheaton's women's volleyball team at an Atlanta Braves game in Georgia.