By: Diotima Roy
When I met with Carolyn Vaca for to interview her for our Girl’s Senior athlete feature, the first thing that struck me was her warm and affable personality. Her cheerful and optimistic disposition has helped her go a long way in her volleyball career—not only is she the captain of the girls’ volleyball team, she is also an excellent role model for younger players to look up to. “Vaca possesses immense leadership qualities and helps the younger girls understand what they are doing wrong and how to fix it,” said Coach Katie Schuh.
Vaca is such a talented player, that it is hard to believe that playing volleyball is not something she always imagined doing. Since childhood, she loved playing casual volleyball at the beach, but never thought about taking it up as a sport in high school until a close friend persuaded her to do so. According to Vaca, that was “one of the best pieces of advice [she had] ever received.”
Volleyball requires a lot of teamwork, and that happens to be Vaca’s favorite aspect of the sport. “If you are standing and watching on the court you’re doing something wrong,” Vaca believes. The secret to success during a game lies in channeling the excitement and rush one feels into making a play to keep a point going. But if a point is lost, Vaca does not dwell on it. She pulls herself up by the bootstraps and motivates the team to try harder. “Even if we lose the point, we get into the huddle and still look like we’re having the time of our lives,” said Vaca.
Teammate Anushka Iyer, who has seen Vaca develop as a player and a person over the past three years, wholeheartedly agrees. “The ability to remain optimistic on the court while providing constructive criticism for the betterment of the team is a fine line every team leader strives to balance. To Carolyn, it comes naturally,” she said.
Other than being a volleyball player, Vaca is a Peer Leader, a Girl Scout, a thrower on the varsity track team, as well as the President of two school clubs–the all female acapella group and Leo Club. Her impeccable time management skills and abundance of talent ensures that she comes out on top of everything she is a part of. “It does get stressful sometimes, but I remind myself what each of these activities mean to me, and that gives me the strength to power through,” Vaca said.
Volleyball has taught Vaca to think of other people before herself and learn that the only way to improve yourself is by helping everyone else on team improve. Her advice to underclassmen on the team hoping to make an impact is “When you have a strong foundation of support from people on the court, anything is possible. Play as a team and put the team before yourself.”