This week’s athlete of the week is volleyball player Jayden Sanford.
Sanford, a freshman in graphic communications and marketing, joined PSU from Springfield’s Glendale High School.
This is Sanford’s first season in PSU’s athletic program.
“The opportunity to play for Coach Gomez and with a group of such hardworking girls has been awesome,” Sanford said.
The biggest accomplishment of her athletic career came the summer before her junior year of high school. Sanford had the opportunity to play at Team USA’s Invitational GYA2 camp in Colorado Springs.
“…It was such a neat experience,” Sanford said. “I got to meet volleyball players and coaches from all around the country. In high school, I also picked up a few All-Conference and All-District honors.”
Athletics has always been part of Sanford’s life.
“My first encounter with the sport of volleyball was in second grade,” Sanford said. “I found it extremely boring due to the fact that we were barely able to serve the ball over the net and when someone was finally able to do so, the other side could not return it. As a result of this, I played basketball for the majority of my elementary years. I picked back up on volleyball in seventh grade because I moved to Missouri from Texas and my parents wanted me to make friends. I actually really enjoyed it because we were learning to attack and there was much more action involved. When I first started, I was not very good, but I fell in love with the sport and wanted to learn everything that I could about it. My freshman year of high school I made the varsity team and we ended up going undefeated in our conference which was an awesome experience. In addition to playing volleyball for my high school, I played on a competitive club team.”
In high school, Sanford earned first-team All-District selection as a senior and posed 200 kills, 27 service aces, and 154 digs. Additionally, she has participated in USAV nationals on four occasions, including a fifth-place national finish.
Sanford’s love for volleyball grew as she advanced through high school, so much that she decided to continue playing in college.
“When I first started playing volleyball, to play in college was not really an intention of mine until freshman year club season,” Sanford said. “Ultimately, my love for the sport is what drove me to continue my volleyball career in college. I still have so much that I want to learn, and frankly could not imagine life without volleyball.”
Originally, Sanford participated in sports for fun and to stay active. After suffering an injury that required surgery, Sanford realized how much volleyball meant to her.
“…When I am having a rough practice or game, I try and put things in perspective and ask myself ‘if this was the last opportunity I had to play, would I be happy with how I performed?’ I know what it’s like to not be able to play, and sports truly are temporary, so it’s important to me that I give my best every time I step on the court.”
Sanford believes she has learned a lot of important life lessons and made lasting relationships throughout her volleyball career.
“Volleyball is such a team sport requiring a lot of trust and camaraderie,” Sanford said. “It has built many of my greatest friendships and also has taught me so many life skills, a big one being leadership. I love everything about the game, especially the fact that you can always learn something and continue to improve. I also love competing. Volleyball is such a mental game and huge plays such as a great dig, kill, or stuff block can completely change the outcome of an entire match. The feeling that you get when you step on to the court to play a match is unbeatable.”
The volleyball team has two upcoming matches.
“This week we have two back-to-back road games, Emporia State and Central Missouri,” Sanford said. “I am really looking forward to competing the rest of this season with this team. We have a lot of talent as well as chemistry, and a lot of opportunity to be successful.”