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


blog lauren life

This Wasn’t in The Play Call

This is an ironic blog. Who would have thought that the very thing I created for a school project would become the resource I needed for myself. Teaching, aiding, and walking with friends through life’s biggest obstacles. Being a word of encouragement to those struggling with the stage of life they may be in, rarely ever thinking that the challenges others face could happen to you, especially not tomorrow.

Ever felt invisible? That life was finally going your way? Oblivious to the reality that you would soon be entering a dark, beaten down, and distraught road. Well, that’s the Road I’m On at the moment. I don’t know why my direction has changed its course but I have to believe that the man with the compass is steering me towards a better destination.

I played my last volleyball game on 10/22/22. My brand promise to you was to always share with complete honesty and truth. And well, I feel robbed, broken, defeated, and a bit hopeless at the moment. I have a lot of questions for God. Like why I deserved this? Why me? Why now? What did I do wrong? What could He possibly be teaching me?

I don’t have these answers, and frankly I’m not sure I ever will. Just when I thought the pieces of my life that had been previously broken were finally being repaired, my life shatters. You hear of athletes exiting the world of sports after a long career, facing identity crises. I don’t even feel like I was given the respect of mourning the sport that was taken from me in a split second. The calendar did not run out for my final season, life came a took the days I had left without any explanation or preparation. Why does a God who loves his children let these things happen?

I want to ask Him myself. I wish there was a phone line to heaven where I could speak to the manager. Better yet, I wish I could send my Grammy to speak to the manager. Believe me, if you met my Grammy, you’d know she’d take care of this dilemma and have a word with the Man who let this happen to me. Grammy gets Nordstroms to refund her for the shoes she purchased in 1998, I’m sure she could get them to reverse this reality.

My volleyball career has been a story of trials, tribulations, and a lot of hard work. I was exactly 25 days away from finally hanging up my jersey with pride and 14 days away from celebrating all that I’d committed to and accomplished in my four years on Senior Night. To say the least, I am heartbroken. It just doesn’t seem fair. It’s hard to not think of all the things you dreamt for yourself and question why God wasn’t willing to allow you to play on your senior night, the game that has been highlighted in your calendar for years. Now my calendar will read the track of a yearlong road to recovery. Why couldn’t He just give me a few more weeks? I already miss the nerves I felt before stepping on the court and the antsy movement of my feet when the game is about to begin. I miss the feeling of my heart racing, the competitive drive, and the goofy mumbles at the net. I’d do anything to hear that over the mumbles of a diagnosis from the Doctor. I simply don’t understand why. Where did I go wrong? Did I really deserve this? Is this my fault?

People have told me that something good will come of this, He has a plan, and that everything is going to be alright. But I’d be lying if I told you I believed them. I don’t understand the plan. I don’t see the good that will come of this. And right now, nothing feels right. I don’t say this as a way to receive pity for my situation. I say this to admit that sometimes life just stinks. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. You don’t see the real side of people behind the Instagram post, the selfies, the Tik-Tok dances, or the tweets. It’s ok to not have it all together sometimes, I promise you, it’s part of being human. And while I don’t have the answer to why bad things happen to good people, I hope to be a light to you in your hard place as we walk this road together towards a brighter day.

A few weeks ago, I shared a few things I learned in my 22 years of life. The first lesson being that in your hardest days, custom armor is being built for you. So that every challenge after will have no chance against your weaponry. And while I feel like I couldn’t be any tougher with the obstacles I’ve already climbed, I guess God thought I needed my armor upgraded. I know this Road I’m On will be tough, but I am certain that I will like my new added armor features of strength, perseverance, and courage that I am gaining in the process.

Join me in praying for a safe surgery and speedy recovery…Maybe even a miracle to play again.

Thank you!





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Have a story to share? Share the Road You’re On Today.


Sister, Sister


(Scroll down for video) 🙂

This past week I sat down with my sister, Reagan Walsh. She shared her story as a top prospect athlete and details of the road she’s on. Her freshman season consisted of 50 RBI’s, 7 Home Runs, 280 Batting Average, and a trip to the Women’s College World Series! So how does she do it? And how does she stay true to her morals while accomplishing her goals? Find out by watching our conversation linked below.

About Reagan

Reagan is currently on the women’s softball team at the University of Florida. At the age of 19, Reagan has managed to accomplish so much…

  • 2021 Los Angeles Times All-Star Team
  • 2021 Daily Breeze Player of the Year
  • 2021 Pioneer League Most Valuable Player
  • 2021 PGF All-American Western Region
  • 2020 Daily Breeze All-Area League First Team
  • 2019 Daily Breeze All-Area League First Team
  • 2018 All-State Cal-Hi Sports Player of the Week
  • 2018 Daily Breeze All-Area League First Team

Reagan is humble, determined, and strives to achieve the most with her ability. She admits that she has learned through mistakes. The lessons she’s learned prepared her for the obstacles presented during the current road she’s on. Between practices, homework, home runs, dating and friendships; Reagan is just like any other college student, finding their purpose and chasing dreams.

Her Advice

“Be yourself and do what you love… everything is gonna work out”

Follow along with Reagan as she embarks on her sophomore season. #GoGators

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