Merle Weidt – New Jersey, Arizona, Colorado

female volleyball player

Merle Weidt
Rutgers, New Jersey / Tucson, Arizona / Denver, Colorado

When I was approaching my graduation from high school, I was not ready to let go of volleyball and just be a normal college student. However, I also didn’t want to fully commit to academics either, so I fulfilled my dream of living abroad playing college volleyball in the US.

When I started the process of finding my school, I met with Sandra to discuss what schools might be a right fit for me. I didn’t know anything about the college volleyball system but Sandra answered any questions I had and helped me throughout the whole process.

I didn’t have many expectations of the life in the US. I had gone to boarding school for four years, so I was used to living away from home and training 20 hours / week while handling the school load. Still, I went through the full culture shock during my first weeks: the food was different, the people were different but playing the sport I love with a goal in mind got me through those first weeks.

After two seasons in the Big Ten at Rutgers University in New Jersey, I decided to transfer to the West Coast to the University of Arizona. The decision to leave my friends at Rutgers behind was definitely one of my biggest challenges during my time in the US. However, I am happy that I took that step because I loved my time at Arizona. I formed new friendships with my teammates and coaches, while enjoying the sunny and warm weather year-around. On top of that, I still got to compete against the best teams in the country in nice facilities and cool cities like L.A. or Seattle.

Arizona also changed my academic journey, as I discovered my passion for Environmental Science, which I added as a minor to my Global Studies major.

While COVID-19 impacted all of our college experiences, it also opened new doors for me. During COVID, I got to do a roadtrip driving up and down the West Coast to make some of the best experiences of my life. On top of that, I used my extra year of eligibility at the University of Denver to start my master’s degree in Global Environmental Sustainability. My time at Denver was short but impactful. Within six months, I made great friendships, fought through hardships of illness and injury and other battles our team faced.

Looking back, I faced many challenges during my time as D1 volleyball player but I would not change a thing. I made life-long friends, got to play in front of thousands of people, pursue my academic passion, and became a better person. I can only recommend everyone to always follow their heart and do what feels right. While it forced me to make hard decisions, it also has brought me to a top school pursuing my dream career with experiences that will last a life time.