friendships sports travel

Convo’s & Cracker Barrel

Convo’s & Cracker Barrel

Final road trip of the season. A bitter sweet experience, time, and journey. The road Belmont volleyball was on in literal terms consisted of highway US-41 and I-69. But what the road really meant, was one last trip together as a team before we go our separate ways. Gone home for the holidays and some, gone for good.

What is it like on the road? Long days and some sleepless nights. Early practices and take-out. Bus dances, Starbucks runs, and karaoke. Road trips are where we talk as more than simply players but as best friends. Laughing, singing, sharing stories, and finding any way possible to get in a comfortable position on the bus. All while, holding back the nerves that come with knowing that game day is just a few hours away.

On this trip, I was injured but I knew I couldn’t miss it. This was the last rodeo, last long drive, and last of delirious laughs with my team. When you’re an underclassman on these trips, it’s easy to look forward to the next thing. Always impatient with where your feet are, constantly flipping to the next, like sticky notes that never run out. But sometimes, if you’re anything like me, all it takes is conversations at Cracker Barrel to remind you of just how lucky you are to be surrounded by built-in best friends.

That’s the special part about being on a sports team. The 17 of us did not choose each other yet, somehow our worlds collided at perfect time. Divine timing. We never would have thought that a California, Ohio, Oregon, and Kentucky girl would one day be sitting around a Cracker Barrel table in Evansville, Indiana. What are the odds? Slim to none.

The four of us told stories and learned more about the people we are behind the jersey. With limited ideas left for this blog, it occurred to me that the greatest story was right in front of me. We are of 1% of women that get to compete in Division 1 sports. The four of us are from different parts of the country but managed to make it to one University among thousands. We are different yet, alike. Living and learning together on a road very few before us have traveled.

I recall being on this bus as a freshman wondering how I’d ever get through it. Now I’m through it and would do it all over again. Time goes by fast. What I hope for is more convos at Cracker Barrel. For the girls that come after me to see the beauty in eating around a table with your team in the middle of nowhere on a Friday night. Sure, there will be times when you’ll wish your evening looked like those partying back home. But don’t let this time pass you by, very few get these moments, as unconventional as they are, you’re going to remember them forever. Screaming on the bus at the top of our lungs, “dixie land delight” or karaoke with the bus mic. Making bathroom breaks in the middle of the night, driving through endless miles of corn fields, and reckless bus drivers. Even if it meant cruching through the snow post-surgery, these memories are worth it.

I do not think it will hit me that this was my last trip with the team. Sweet silence, squeaky windows, and bright lights from outside all disguise this reality. The Belmont volleyball team sleeps, someone reeks, and all is right in the world:)

If your road looks daunting, long, and tedious and you wonder if you’ll ever make it to the end. You will and the time will go fast. Take a moment to appreciate the friends you make along the road you’re on. And if it helps, have a convo at Cracker Barrel.


Cracker Barrel



friendships life sports travel

Texas to Tuscany Part II

Texas to Tuscany Part II

Halee VanPoppel and Lauren Walsh reminisce of their time together on the volleyball court. The two touch on some of their hardest seasons and how they navigated these challenges together.

Playing a college sport is hard. Often times, the perception of college athletics is glamorized by public perception. With the lack of candidness as to what being a student athlete really looks like, many miss just how much work goes into the job. It takes a lot of practice, perseverance, time, and energy. In that process, the road can get bumpy. In many ways this season of Halee and Lauren’s life tested their faith, character, and strength. And with these lessons learned, the two have gotten way more out of the sport than simply the sport alone.

For Halee, volleyball has given her the opportunity to play another season in Rome, Italy and see the world! For Lauren, the sport gave her the opportunity to travel 2,000+ miles from home and experience a whole new life in the south. Mutually, the two are thankful that the sport gave them each other:)

Listen to their stories and advice during the road of college sports now.


Read Part I