Volleyball player, dual math and psychology major Lizzie Knapper contributes much to her team’s advancement. Knapper ardently supports her teammates by attending every volleyball practice and tournament while also staying connected to the school community. Mercer students usually spot Knapper attending Reformed University Fellowship service or teaching a Pre-calculus SI class to freshman. Although balancing schoolwork, church, a social life, and volleyball resembles walking a tightrope, Knapper demonstrates the expertise of a trapeze artist.
On Thursday, Knapper’s busiest day of the week, she wakes up around 7 a.m. and quickly snatches a yogurt before heading off to her 8 a.m. 400 level math class, Real Analysis. “It’s really challenging and a lot harder than last year’s classes,” commented Knapper. After her Real Analysis class, she runs to History 110, which starts at 9:25 a.m. Then, at 10:50 a.m., Knapper studies Behavioral Statistics, a psychology course she takes to fulfill her major requirements. Commenting on her 12:15 p.m. Criminal Justice class, Knapper explains, “I am mainly taking that course for extra hours.”
After Knapper finishes her classes for the day, she grabs a quick bite to eat at 1:40 p.m. After eating lunch, the studious volleyball player finds a quiet place to study and does her homework from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Knapper then changes in the locker room for her 3:30 p.m. practice. Volleyball practice generally lasts from 3:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. Before some practices, the team meets at 3:00 p.m. in the team room to watch films and critique their performance. During practice, the new volleyball coach, Damian Elder, demands the best from his athletes. “He wants us to be a new Mercer,” says Knapper, “He wants us to play with a new momentum or what he calls ‘mojo,’ but he has been pushing us to do our best.” Once practice is over, Knapper orders a chicken sandwich at the University Center’s Chick-Fil-A. On rare occasions, she ventures into the Caf for dinner.
Hurriedly, Knapper takes a shower and briskly walks to her 8:00 p.m. SI Pre-calculus class. “SI is a tutoring session,” explains Knapper. By 9:10 p.m., the SI tutoring session ends and Knapper darts over to Tarver Library to finish some last minute homework. At 12:00 a.m., the worn-out volleyball player finally falls into bed.
In her interview, Knapper expressed how she likes to extend her circle of friends outside of the volleyball team. “A lot of my friends are on my team, but I also go to RUF, so I also have friends from there,” explains Knapper. “It’s tough at times, though, because we have weekends [when] we are here [on the Mercer campus] and we can do stuff and have fun, but a lot of times I am on the road so I don’t have time, so our team kinda really becomes like a family…it’s really nice.”
Realistically, Knapper humbly accepts her role as a team motivator: “One of the best things about being on the team is that I am not the star player and I sit on the bench a lot, but it’s good to just be a teammate to the other girls and push them in practice…I just enjoy being part of the team,” acknowledged the right-side hitter.
With her hopeful attitude, Knapper provides a refreshing perspective in a cut-throat NCAA Division I sport, “If my identity were in volleyball it would be really hard for me because I am not the best on the team… it’s easy to lose who you are, but I know my identity is in Christ and that helps me to realize that I need to be humble on the court and it just makes me a better teammate.”
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