It's been four years of ups and downs for senior volleyball player Kelly Kolich (Overland Park, Kan.). From the hard court to the sand, she's played some, sat some, but always cheered on her teammates and her school. Over the last two years, however, she's also become an integral part of the College of Charleston multimedia team.
Kolich works as a student intern with the athletic department's much-heralded multimedia team that has earned press nationwide for innovative uses of technology and student integration in a television truck to produce ESPN3 broadcasts and high-end video streams.
This is the story of how the College helped Kolich found out who she was and what she wanted to do with her life:
Tell us about your journey to the College of Charleston.
When I came to the College of Charleston, my visit was less than 24 hours because I had to play in an All-Star match a day later. After I visited, it was my top choice. There was something about the girls and the team that was so unlike any other place I had visited. The girls here weren't fake, but they were sincere and genuine. I was really excited when I was offered to come here.
How did you start doing the "Kelly's Korner" video specials for CofCSports.com?
I've always been kind of loud and obnoxious. Jeremy Rosenthal came my sophomore year and had a camera and an idea to do a video. The coach asked the team who should do the video and everyone screamed "Kelly!" I just kind of took over the reins that way.
I really wasn't sure what I wanted to go into when I came here. I was thinking of maybe being a child-life specialist. But once I got my hands on the camera it all changed.
I went into communications and media studies and it kind of evolved from there.
Have you had difficulty balancing school, volleyball and your internship?
I couldn't ask for a better group of people. Basically when I first started they worked with my schedule. Now that I play two sports (sand and hard court) it's just whenever I can get to an event. If I don't have a match, I go as soon as I can to the game to work.
Last semester, when I was done with sand practice I would go over to Patriots Point and spend the rest of the evening there doing video for baseball. I work with soccer, baseball, volleyball, basketball. And I've done everything from running a camera to stage managing to handling graphics in the truck.
But for sand volleyball I do video, then I'll play the game and give someone else the camera, and then I'll shoot again when I'm done. It's interesting.
How will this experience help you with your career?
It's definitely great to have this much experience at so young of an age. I've learned a lot. Doing the hands-on stuff you learn a lot, too. But if you just listen, you learn so much more.
It's great to have this on a resume and have this much experience. I haven't even graduated and one of the best parts of the program is that Josh [Bryson] and Dennis [Trapani] are so great at getting internships for student-athletes.
It's so hard to get internships and jobs when you are a student-athlete because you are so busy. They both work so well with my schedule because they know I have all this other stuff going on.
Shifting gears a bit, tell us about your experiences with sand volleyball.
I absolutely love sand volleyball. Sand has really been my good ground. I love sand and I was so happy when I found out that it was going to become an NCAA sport. I couldn't have asked for a better season.
It's not as much team-oriented, but you bond so much as a team because you are constantly cheering your other teammates in their matches. I love when I'm on one court and I hear Lizzie Theesfeld cheering me from another court. You know she's playing and you're playing and she's yelling "good job!"
What does sand volleyball mean to CofC?
Having the opportunity to play both is huge. You learn a lot about ball control. If you don't have ball control your partner isn't going to get your ball. It's so much more difficult to run in the sand. The physical strength and muscle strength for sand transfers over to indoor. When you are done with playing sand and you play indoor for the first time you feel like you're flying 500 feet through the air. You're jumping so high. It's pretty fun.
Honestly, it's such a fun sport and such a fun atmosphere. When we have our games at Creekside, there's music playing, there are tons of fans. It's a fun atmosphere and everyone just wants to play.
I haven't played as much indoor this season, so it's kind of my job to keep the bench in line.
I try to be as honest with the younger players as I can be. I try to encourage them. I've been in positions where I have played and I have started and I've been in positions where I've sat on the bench. I can help them keep it all in perspective and keep their heads up.
How have you developed as a person coming in as a bright-eyed freshman to an experienced, more mature senior?
I came to college without knowing what I wanted to do. It's incredible to look back at my four years here and see how much I've changed as a person. I've had so much support. More than I could have ever imagined.
I've been given so many opportunities coming here. I know it was the best choice. It may not have always been good volleyball-wise. I've done a lot of playing and not playing through my four years. But I've been given so many great opportunities to further define my character and who I am as a person.
The four years I've been here have changed me for the best. I don't think I would have gotten the same help and support anywhere else than at College of Charleston.