I’m sure many of you, those who have lived a little, remember your first semester of college.
For me, it went something like this:
Arrive at first class at 8 a.m., go through that one and another until 10 a.m. and then head for the Student Union, where friends would congregate. When it got cold, we would listen to music piped into the room by the college radio station and sit in front of the fire.
Suddenly, that 1 p.m. class didn’t seem so important. Some days I would make it. Some days not. Those chairs sure were comfortable. And there were lots of girls around.
There were no bells or buzzers to tell you to get to the next class, no teachers checking out the halls to make sure you weren’t loitering. When you didn’t show up, no one seemed to care.
In other words, it was heaven.
Then there was the whole deal about dropping classes that weren’t quite right. To put it bluntly, and accurately, I was plain stupid. In high school, there was no such thing as dropping a class once it began. I figured it was the same deal. I was wrong.
I signed up for a class called “History of Western Music.” I thought it was about jazz or blues or rock. Nope.
The first day I was greeted by a professor who wore glasses that didn’t have any glass in them. One of the students asked about it the first day.
“It’s because I can’t hear,” he said.
Everyone laughed. Then he said he wore the frames to conceal his hearing aid. Might have drawn a little less attention with regular glass lenses. Strange.
In any event, the class ended up being for music students, and I hadn’t touched an instrument since the recorder in second grade. The “Western” part had nothing to do with Johnny Cash. The professor would do a little “Name That Tune,” with 10 seconds of Chopin, and we were expected to identify the piece and its significance. I had no chance, and I knew it. But I didn’t realize I could have dropped the class. It was the only one I ever failed.
My wrestling coach called me to his office after my first semester. “A 1.8 GPA?” he asked, giving me the stink eye. “Another one of these and you are gone.”
Years later, I still am impressed when I hear stories of freshmen who succeed immediately at the college level. I can attest that it’s not easy.
This past weekend, Columbus East graduate Shelby Holland, now a college freshman, helped the University of Indianapolis to the NCAA Division II final four in Pensacola, Fla.
Obviously, Holland has made a seamless transition to college volleyball even though she has changed her position as she went from libero to defensive specialist. She has handled all the heavy academic requirements as well as being away from her family, which includes parents Steve and Kim, and younger brothers Jarred and Nathan.
“It is a lot tougher than high school,” Holland said Monday. “Everything is more intense. It seems like it is a lot more demanding on your time.
“Our coach (Jody Rogers) has a saying. ‘Do your job.’ It’s school first, then volleyball. I put so much work into it. It is a job. But I enjoy it still.”
It’s comforting to sit around and say, “They don’t make kids like they used to.” But the truth is that these students such as Holland, who was the Republic’s volleyball player of the year as a Columbus East senior, would blow many of us out of the water when it comes to dedication and commitment.
Holland hasn’t blinked even though she faced a solid veteran lineup that she has worked hard to crack. She knows that every moment is being scrutinized by Holland as the Greyhounds (31-8 this season) have become one of the best programs in the nation. “If you mess up, you wonder, ‘Is she looking at me,’” Holland said.
Part of her transition involves being a small player at 5-foot-7. “Against Tampa (which beat Indianapolis in the NCAA semifinals), we faced a girl who was 6-5,” Holland said. “And the game plays a lot faster than in high school. You have to react faster.”
Holland, who studies exercise sciences, has shown the mental and physical strength to adjust. “At first I was kind of intimidated,” she said. “Once you’re playing, though, you get used to it. I have the same bruises that I had in high school.”
She has gotten significant playing time and looks to be an even bigger factor next season. She has gotten used to the grind of being a true student-athlete. “You need to have good time-management skills,” she said. “But it’s always been my goal to play volleyball in college, and this has been a great experience.”
A great experience as a freshman? I am so jealous.
Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 379-5632.