I’m Maya Hölzlein from Bamberg, Germany.
I have been playing volleyball since I was very little and over the years this sport has become a more and more important part of my life. When I was about 15 years old, I discovered college volleyball in the USA for the first time and have been following it online ever since. Through a friend of my family, I found out about Sandra and VolleyUSA and immediately it became clear to me that I would like to play volleyball in America myself.
I was lucky and got a full scholarship in Florida. I the middle of July I got in the plane, very excited for my new home for the next two years. On my very second day at IRSC, my whole team participated in a volunteer project where we did a boat tour and cleaned up the beaches in the area. This is one of my favorite memories and was perfect to get to know all my team mates.
Unfortunately, I had problems making friends with them at first and finding my role in the team. That was my biggest challenge during my time in America. But little by little I got to know athletes from other sports and made lifelong friends with people from all over the world. Also, things with my teammates got better after some girls started to reach out for me more. The daily practices, living together and common school classes helped me to feel more comfortable in the team as well.
The practice was fun but also very physically demanding. However, I enjoyed how strongly the team pushes each other and how everyone tried to get the best out of each other. It was much louder and more energizing in the gym than it has been with my teams in Germany. I was an outside hitter for the team but did not get a lot of playing time. But this did not encourage me and only spurred me to become better every day and try to help my team off the field. One of my favorite volleyball moments was when we beat our rival, Daytona State College, in five sets on our home court. The atmosphere was amazing and all the other athletes, especially the basketball teams, cheered for us. Another great game was a friendly game against Lynn University where I got the chance to show how much I have improved as a player over the season.
Of course, I did not only play volleyball but also studied in Florida. I was a biology major and therefore took many science classes. Since my college was rather small, all the professors knew that I was an athlete and they were very friendly and supportive. Balancing sports and studying has never been a problem for me but it can become challenging if you get behind in one of your classes. So, one of my advices for incoming freshman would be to practice time management and to keep yourself accountable for academics and sports.
Sadly, I have to end my adventure in the States after only one year, due to a knee surgery. However, it was a unique adventure and amazing opportunity to go to Florida and live my dream of being a student athlete. I want to thank VolleyUSA who supported me on this journey and encourage all volleyball players to give it a try. This past year has taught me so many lessons and allowed me to travel to different states in the USA as well as to meet new people.
I highly recommend you all to take this step and even if you have difficulties at the beginning with your team, sports or anything else, don’t give up! I have never thought at the beginning how amazing and valuable my time as a student athlete in America will be!