Being a student-athlete encompasses a passion to compete, while also bringing forth a busy schedule overall. Women’s volleyball outside hitter Maria Yoder (Manheim, Pa./Hempfield) takes on the challenges of being a student-athlete head on every day.
Maria showed her talents on the court this past weekend, having an outstanding performance against ODAC rival Guilford College to notch the Royals Athlete of the Week honor.
“Our passing and setting was really solid, which was the first step to me being able to hit well,” Maria said on her performance. “We all knew how important this win was to help us with our goal of reaching the conference tournament at the end the season.”
She had a career performance, leading both teams in kills with a staggering 19. Normally a front row player, the hitter was pressed into all-around duty on Saturday and responded there as well, registering a career high 13 digs against Guilford before breaking that mark later in the day with 18 digs against St. Mary’s.
“Maria hit with the most force and consistency we've seen this season and covered the court defensively despite her 5'11" frame,” Coach Carrie Bert said. “Her all-around presence during that important ODAC contest provided a steadiness for the team.”
Maria puts a great deal of pride in her work ethic on and off the court and pointed towards her work at practice as what helped her.
“I've been working in practice on keeping the ball in front of me and in my body frame to get a solid contact and it worked on Saturday as everything came together,” she explained.
Maria played a great deal of time her freshman year, which can be seen as a learning curve for the experienced sophomore. She puts into perspective how helpful all that early playing time has been for her.
“During my freshman year I realized that the level of play in college is consistently much higher than high school, so you have to be physically and mentally ready to compete every single game,” Maria said. “I feel more confident in my ability and strategy after a year of playing at this level.”
The confidence has shown so far in the season, with Maria coming in second on the team in total kills with 136 while also hitting a respectable 2.09 kills per set.
With being a student-athlete, there are lessons being learned on the field or court that spreads across the spectrum of life. Maria has grasped these lessons early on in her young career and takes pride in it.
“Being a college athlete teaches me that hard work is rewarded, even if it takes longer than you'd expect to see results,” Maria said. “I've also learned to trust and rely on a team because good teamwork makes everyone better than they would be individually. These are both lessons I can apply to my work ethic and relationships beyond college athletics.”
Only a sophomore, Maria has a large number of matches left on the court of Yoder Arena in her career.
The ability to absorb the necessary information for improvement on and off the court has been an asset for Maria, one that she will continue to use to better herself in the years to come as an EMU student-athlete.
--- by Jake Brown, Sports Information Intern