On the court in Italy

On the court in Italy

Heidelberg students Sarah Parker '17 and Stephanie Romie '15 were selected to represent the United States internationally this summer: on the volleyball court.

USA Athletes International provides overseas playing opportunities for high school, college, and club athletes. Head Coach Jason Miller had recommended the two players to the program, and both received invitations to join a team.

"I'm only going to be 19 once," Sarah said. "I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity because it's a once in a lifetime one."

Sarah and Stephanie spent ten days in Italy playing on a USAAI team with players from all over the country. Their coach was Becky Schmidt from Hope College in Michigan. "She was energetic and enthusiastic about everything," said Sarah. "Being from the Midwest, she knew our conference."

It is a conference that Sarah has made a name for herself. She made an impact as a freshman starter last year, and this season she raised the bar as an honorable mention All-American and first team All-OAC and All-Region selections. She led the OAC in kills and led the Heidelberg team in blocks with 81.

That skill helped her get selected for the team, and her friendly personality allowed her to benefit and grow from being exposed to a different culture. The team traveled around Italy to play Italian club teams because schools in Italy don't have afterschool teams like the United States. "We were playing teams who grew up playing together," Sarah said. "Our team had just met."

Sarah's team ended up with a 3-2 record. Once day they would play in a small gym and the next they would be in a 5,000 seat stadium court, depending on the city they were in. Having great teammates made the experience even better.

"Everyone gelled well," Sarah said. "We were a group of easy-going girls."

Along the way the group made site-seeing stops at the Vatican City, the Colosseum, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Sarah is thankful for being able to experience a new culture and see her culture in a new way.

"I really enjoyed this experience and it gave me a greater appreciation for our program at Heidelberg," she said. "We hold ourselves to higher standards."

Story written by Rachel Hiser  |  Photographs provided by Sarah Parker