and their sports lottery. Today, my guest is another player from their women’s team – Milly Smith:
Milly is here to tell you about herself, her passion for volleyball and all things tall.
My name is Milly Smith, I’m just shy of 6”3 and I’m 22 years old.
Always being the tallest person in my class at school, I knew I had to use my height somewhere and sport was always the way I intended to do this. Growing up around the New Forest, I played a lot of netball and competed in athletics – especially sprinting and long jump. However, after a taster session at my school led by two female GB players, volleyball soon became my primary focus and has been a love of mine ever since. I particularly remember my excitement in seeing two confident and tall young ladies, who in reflection, certainly formed my aspiration to be successful in sport.
HER PASSION FOR VOLLEYBALL
Throughout my volleyball career, I’ve played against many teams up and down the UK and overseas and have represented my country a number of times at junior and senior level. My fondest volleyball memory was winning the UK School Games in 2013 (an oldie but a goldie), which was perhaps when I realised that I wanted to take the sport to the next level. Being part of a team, for the most part, of equally tall girls, the volleyball court has always been a place where I have felt comfortable. Spending a large chunk of my adolescence slouching to compensate for my smaller friends or to avoid appearing taller than many of the boys in my school (much to the disapproval of my posture-obsessed mum), here I felt – and still feel – that I could use my height to my advantage. It is also through volleyball that I have learned to embrace my height, rather than hide it, and to recognise the good that comes from using it! Of course, it would be naive to say that being tall is always easy; annoying comments, the constant search for longer skirts often the wrong kind of attention, but over time I’ve learned that how I feel about my height, rather than how others perceive it, is of the highest importance.
BEING A STUDENT ATHLETE
For the last three years I’ve studied BA English Literature at the University of Essex, and have now embarked on a Masters degree in MSc Marketing Management which has been funded by my volleyball programme as a sports scholarship. This has allowed me to represent the Essex Blades in weekly BUCS matches and seasonal tournaments, of which I’ve loved every minute. I’m really proud to have played for this team for 4 years, and to have reached the BUCS premier league semi finals this season. In addition to representing the Blades, I’m also a player for Tendring Volleyball Club who currently compete in the highest league in the country, the Super League, and who have recently been named league champions! Travelling the span of the country with this team, with frequent trips to Durham and Bournemouth, has understandably made us very close; spending so much time with these people has not only made us strong teammates but also good, lifelong friends. Playing with this group of girls has been the highlight of my year and is a long lasting example of everything I’ve worked towards in the sport. Huge shout out to the team, coaches and sponsors for this amazing achievement!
Being a student athlete has been a challenging experience (almost as difficult as finding a long enough pair of jeans) but with the things I’ve learned and the people I’ve met along the way, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Training and playing sometimes up to 20 hours a week, this role has definitely taught me to adopt a good time management and to balance my commitments well – let’s hope that I can adapt this to my future in the workplace. Not only this however, volleyball has taught me much more; to be resilient, patient, and to always work hard towards something you desire.
It’s unknown what the future is for me after my Masters and commencing the dreaded job search, but for now the focus is to stay fit over the summer in preparation for next season. I’m hoping to move to London to pursue a career in marketing which is likely to open some new doors, something I’m really excited about. Whether I continue to play volleyball or pick up another sport is unknown, however, I’m certainly proud of everything I’ve achieved thus far in my sporting career. Regardless, my intention to take pride in my height and to encourage others as luckily lanky to get involved in sport too, still remains.
I’d like to thank everyone who has assisted me in my sporting and academic desires in helping to shape the person I am today.