Every year each Big Ten institution awards a male and female student-athlete with a Medal of Honor. First awarded in 1915, the conference's most exclusive award was the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence. This week each of Ohio State’s ten Big Ten Medal of Honor finalists will be sharing their experiences as Buckeyes and what led them to become the outstanding student-athletes they are today.
The saying ‘when opportunity knocks, open the door’ truly describes what Ohio State has given me over these past four years. It was about six years ago that I made my first visit to Ohio State. At that point in my life I was unsure about a lot of things. I still remember being in Coach Hanson’s office on a recruiting trip telling him that ‘I thought I wanted to play volleyball in college, but wasn’t sure.’ Judging by the look on his face I think that scared him a little bit, but he still pressed forward and helped convince me that Ohio State volleyball was the right door to open.
Fast forward to today and I don’t think I could have made a better decision. The opportunities that Ohio State has given me academically, athletically, and socially have allowed me to both flourish and grow. Being such a large university, just about any academic path is possible. I started off undecided about my major but settled in on Biomedical Engineering because I believe in the vast opportunities it would present me following graduation. This belief panned out, as I have been given the chance to open the door to the next chapter of my life and attend medical school. Athletically, regardless of your sport, Ohio State gives you every tool necessary to succeed. The individuals that comprise the athletics department are truly the best of the best, from top to bottom. It may not seem evident to everyone now, but so many people will attempt to find things that will help you succeed on the court and in life throughout your time here.
Only talking about the opportunities would be selling Ohio State short. The dedication that I have witnessed firsthand is astonishing. This dedication is on the court, in the classroom, the lab, and in the office. It is the devotion that the support staff puts in that allows all of us student-athletes to not have a worry other than academics and athletics. It is the devoutness of the training staff that puts us at maximum physical potential. And it is the commitment of the coaches to have us all find new athletic boundaries. Without this culmination of time and effort, lasting lessons would not be taught and lasting memories would not be made.
Even with all this support, success is not guaranteed on the court. I found this out the tough way my freshman year as my team experienced one of the worst seasons in Ohio State men’s volleyball history. We lost more games that year than my last three combined. But in that time of tribulation, lessons were learned. The team learned that simply being given the opportunity to play at Ohio State doesn’t mean anything for success. It is the work you put in during the offseason, the extra reps before and after practice, and the decisions you make outside of the gym that separate you from other teams. If the nucleus of my team hadn’t learned this as we were freshmen and sophomores, we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in right now: looking to defend a National Championship on our home floor.
None of these achievements, memories, or opportunities would have been possible without my family. They opened more doors for me than I will ever know, they pushed me to never accept the current version of myself, and they have always been there to catch me when I fall. My coaches, they have been the base of the success athletically and have pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone as a teammate and leader. And finally, my teammates, both current and past. They are the ones that I will share many of my fondest memories from this experience with. The relationships I have built with many will last long after college. They have pressed me to be become a more complete friend, teammate, and man. So to my friends, coaches, and family, thank you. And also to Ohio State, thank you. You have given me countless opportunities these past four years, and will continue to open doors for me as I move on from an unforgettable chapter of my life.
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