One of the hardest choices for a number of high school athletes is deciding between playing a sport at the Division II or III level or attending a large school where the opportunity to compete at the varsity level is not available.
Weighing the pros and cons affects a number of athletes attracted to the trappings of universities with student bodies in the tens of thousands.
The decision hung over Trumbull’s Stephanie Olah this fall. The 5-9 Olah — a contributor to The Ruden Report — was part of a Trumbull volleyball team that won a regional title this season and a state championship a year ago.
After looking at a number of large schools, Olah revealed on social media today she decided to continue her volleyball career at Keene State.
I spoke to Olah this afternoon about her decision.
TRR: Where was your mindset at the start of the season between playing volleyball in college or attending a larger school where you may not have been able to play for the varsity team?
SO: Volleyball is huge to me and I made myself a deadline. I have to decide by my last game, if I want to continue playing or not. This year has been so bizarre. I said I should know by the last game. I love the sport and I’m new to it. I started freshman year. It was very hard to decide between just school or volleyball but I know myself, that I like to stay busy and I like the sport so much that I just want to give it a shot.
TRR: Did the success Trumbull has had the last two years and the part you played in it make a difference?
SO: Totally. The Trumbull volleyball program is incredible. They do great things. I definitely think it had a huge part in the player I am today and making me want to continue to play. It was such a family environment so it was really encouraging and really eye-opening to see what a team could be.
TRR: What was the argument you gave yourself to consider schools where you would not have been able to play volleyball?
SO: Honestly, I think academically I am really shooting for the moon. I’d love to be an athletic trainer for a professional team. I think that’s where the academic side came in. Maybe if I went to a bigger school I’d have a better shot at being bigger in my profession with (physical therapy) and athletic training. Volleyball is very height or vertical oriented. Being I’m kind of in the middle of being tall but not that tall for the D I level. I thought the bigger the school the more opportunities but then again that’s not always how it works.
TRR: What did you like about Keene State, since you decided it could satisfy all that you were looking for?
SO: I loved the environment. I actually got to tour it while students were there and I got to see some of the facilities and the team. I think a huge thing is team dynamic. Obviously I haven’t been on the court with the team but I saw the mentality for welcoming people. They were super welcoming and super encouraging and I got to talk to them about their majors and asked was it too hard to balance. How do you feel. It was good to know you could be a good student and a good athlete at the same time.
TRR: Ultimately did it come down to continuing to play volleyball was too important for you?
SO: I think so. I did have the opportunity of playing club volleyball, but I just feel that being on a team is so much different. I thought if I went to a big school I was going to be bored. Obviously there is greek life and club programs. I just had a different mindset knowing you’re on a team. I’m super big on staying involved in something to keep myself busy and knowing I was going to be on the Keene team I was more confident about it.