Congratulations to Sydney A. ‘20, who has been recruited to play Division I volleyball at Virginia Commonwealth University beginning next fall. Sydney’s success has been years in the making and a direct reflection of the high standard she has set for herself during her time at Calhoun. Through hard work and determination, Sydney not only reached her goal, but grew as both an individual and an athlete in the process.
Sydney was an accomplished athlete when she came to Calhoun in Middle School, having played several individual sports competitively, but volleyball wasn’t necessarily on her radar at the time. With the encouragement of Director of Athletics Sabrina Zurkuhlen ‘06, Sydney picked up the sport and made the move from individual sports to a team environment, quickly working her way up to the Girls' Varsity Volleyball team. The change helped her grow into the athlete she is today. “I'm a completely different person now than I was when I started playing sports at Calhoun,” says Sydney. “The experience has taught me how to be part of a team, part of something bigger than myself. Being a Calhoun athlete is part of my identity.” In her time at Calhoun, Sydney has developed both athletic and leadership skills, becoming a trusted mentor to her teammates on the Girls’ Varsity Volleyball team. “She was a fierce competitor when she joined Calhoun teams. It's been an incredible journey,” says Sabrina. “She has developed her own brand of leadership that is really true to who she is.”
Sydney has always been an ambitious athlete, constantly seeking out opportunities to improve her game and play with fellow athletes that would push her. It wasn't long before she was setting her sights high to the next challenge: playing sports in college. “She could have played Division III anywhere but she said, ‘I’m going D-I,’” reflects Sabrina. “She switched her position [from outside hitter to a libero and defensive specialist] a year ago and within that time worked herself onto a D-I roster.” Her goal was not only ambitious from an athletic standpoint, but a mental one as well. The recruitment process was demanding, but Sydney saw it as yet another growth opportunity. “I had to deal with rejection [from schools] and learn how to take that in and better myself. I wanted to push myself because I knew I could do it — I knew I could play at a high level.” Sydney was right. And her skill, self-determination and perseverance landed her a spot on the VCU team.
Sydney couldn’t be happier about the opportunity ahead — to continue to grow and challenge herself at what she describes as her “dream school.” While she’s excited for her future as a VCU Ram, her days as a Calhoun Cougar will serve her well in her next step. “Being part of Calhoun Athletics has given me a lot of confidence and a strong support system — knowing that people are rooting for me.” That community will still be rooting for her as she makes the transition from high school varsity player to Division I student-athlete. Go Sydney!