Opinion: Without Volleyball, Who Am I?


Kevin Hashiro

Me, center, celebrating with my team in one of my last home games.

For the last 10 years, my life has been dedicated to one purpose: volleyball. 

And I have no idea who I am without it. 

I have no idea who I am without a practice I have to be at or a film session I have to go sit through. I have no idea who I am without the pregame jitters or postgame highs. I have no idea who I am without the sport I’ve loved the longest that has dictated almost every decision I have made in the last 10 years.

Senior Night is on Wednesday night against Hawaii Pacific University (7 p.m. at McCabe Gym), and I’m a little afraid of what that is going to mean for me as we finish up the last few matches of the season. While I do have four more matches after Wednesday, possibly more if we win conference, Senior Night is marking the end of my volleyball career. I have very mixed emotions about that. 

I don’t really know how I’m supposed to feel about being done with volleyball. No one tells you. 

On one hand, I’m excited because I’ll get to experience a semester of sleeping in and being able to leisurely go through my day. Since my freshman year, my days have revolved around two hours of practice plus weights and rehab all sandwiched around classes and homework, leaving very little downtime for myself. 

When all of this ends, I’ll be able to rest my body. By the end of my first college season, I could barely walk because of how bad my knees were. And at the end of last season, I finished up with a few tears in my right shoulder. I’ve had a few more injuries in between that. When all of this ends, my body will no longer hurt the night after games or ache so much it feels impossible to sleep. 

Me, 13, at practice during my first year of club volleyball. (Photo courtesy of my mom)

But a part of me is sad. For 10 years, my life has been me walking into a locker room with some of my best friends, putting on my knee pads that I should have washed the night before, and heading into the gym for practice. It has been waking up early for tournaments on the weekend and playing five matches in a day. It has been finishing up my nights late after a day’s worth of practice, conditioning, weights, film, and classes only to realize that I hadn’t eaten. And I have loved it. 

I have loved, mostly, every minute of it. No matter how challenging, tired, sore, anxious, or injured I have been, I loved it and thrived in it even. Everything about competing and playing volleyball has been one of my life’s greatest joys. And I am sad and almost terrified to be leaving this part of my journey. I’ve done nothing besides play this sport since I was 12 years old. 

It has been my security blanket for years now. 

I have no idea who I am without volleyball and no idea who I’ll be after this. I’m not sure if I could’ve admitted that a year ago. But here I am and truth be told, I don’t think I would’ve ever been 100% ready for this day to come. 

I can’t say for certain that my time with volleyball will end here. It’s like a breakup where at some point a couple might end up back together or they don’t. Maybe the time away will be my great awakening or my biggest regret. I might run back into volleyball’s embrace if our paths cross again or I might smile in gratitude and carry on. I have no clue what this means for me. 

My time with volleyball has felt short but at the same time never-ending. My tears, sweat, time, and heart — I have given everything I’ve had to this sport. It has made me the happiest and at times made me feel the worst. But I am grateful for the places it’s taken me, the people it’s introduced me to, and the memories it has given me. 

My next journey, though, which I am terrified of and feel extremely unprepared for, is to find myself without it, whoever that is.