From The Daily: Jill Of All Trades

Oct. 8, 2009

By Taylor Soper
The Daily

A concert pianist. A digital arts and anime fanatic. A devoted poet.And oh yeah, a Pac-10 First Team All-Academic starter on the No. 3 UW volleyball team.

No, those aren't four different talented people. Surprisingly enough, they are only a few passions of senior volleyball star Jill Collymore.

The native of Bellevue, Wash., is in her final year as an outside hitter for the Huskies. A double-major in honors psychology and honors digital arts, Collymore somehow finds time to accomplish various activities amid her extremely busy schedule. With Collymore's curious mind, college was a perfect place to expand on her passions.

'I guess the way I see the world is that there's almost so much stuff in it that I want to see and that I want to feel, that it gets overwhelming,' Collymore explains. 'If the whole world was a ton of boxes, I just want to open them all up and see what's in them and see what I can add to them. I think that's where an interest in all these different things is coming from.'

While many UW students struggle to balance school and social life, Collymore accomplishes a lot of what she wants to do despite her busy schedule. All of her hobbies aren't errands on her to do list; Collymore simply loves what she does.

'I truly enjoy what I choose to do and I mean, obviously it's going to be hard sometimes, but I'm a nerd,' Collymore says with a smile. 'I like school, I like to read, I like to make my films or do art. When it's not a chore, it becomes easier to do.'

Her love for piano came from her mother, who played in a conservatory in France during her teenage years. Collymore has played with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra four times. She takes away a lot of what she learns on the piano bench and uses it on the volleyball court.

'It is interesting how things come full circle,' said the concert pianist, whose parents recently moved her piano into Collymore's house for her birthday. 'You learn a performance element. There's a comfort and confidence you build in practice and then executing that with focus despite a crowd and lots of people watching you.'

Along with a love for piano, Collymore also shares a passion for the arts and poetry. Her interest in cartooning and the arts led to her decision to major in digital arts. Collymore also wrote lots of poetry in high school, and has found a new passion in college: spoken word poetry.

'To me, poetry is the human mind on paper and this free area of expression where all this internal space that people might not express outwardly gets converted and said in a beautiful way,' Collymore reflects. 'That's the type of stuff I live for: people's reality and what they are really feeling and how they see the world.'

While Collymore shines off the court, she also dominates opponents inside the gym with a powerful serve and a crushing spike. This year, the fifth-year player leads the team in total kills with 134. She is second in the Pac-10 with an average of 0.65 service aces per set.

Last year, as a junior, Collymore was named third-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America and was also named first-team All-Academic Pac-10. She led the Pac-10 in service aces while playing in 101 sets and 31 matches.

During her first season at the UW in 2005, Collymore was lucky enough to be a part of a national championship team. She hopes that she, along with fellow senior Tamari Miyashiro, can use their experiences on the championship squad to help this year's team achieve the same greatness.

'Since the 2005 team, we've been growing to get the same leadership in place and that same maturity,' Collymore said. 'I think we've finally achieved that.'

Collymore's volleyball talent runs in the family. She got into the game because of her sister, Jane, who was an All-American at Florida. They have strong support for each other, evidenced most recently at the Arizona match last Saturday.

'Right before the game, she yelled `I love you,'' Collymore said with a laugh. 'It was little pick-me-up for me.'

Head coach Jim McLaughlin has been an influential person throughout Collymore's time at UW, both on and off the court. Collymore chose UW because McLaughlin is, 'hands down, the best coach in the nation,' and that she knew if she came to Montlake, she'd become the best volleyball player she could be.

'When I was coming in, and even now, the girls will give everything they have, everybody will work tirelessly and everybody wants it so bad,' she said of the UW program.' And that's not every program. We just commit the most here and [McLaughlin] will make you the best volleyball player.'

While McLaughlin may be a great coach on the floor, Collymore respects him in ways that extend past the gym.

'Jim really wants us to be great people in our lives, and not just in volleyball,' she said of her coach.

'He knows volleyball so well that he knows how to teach you to take what you're learning in volleyball and how that's just right to do in life. Even if he's hard on you, you know he cares, so just listen and it will pay off.'

McLaughlin had just as much praise and respect for his player. The ninth-year head coach admires the fact that Collymore has conquered many of her struggles throughout her years at the UW, and still feels like she has much more potential.

'The thing I respect most is that she works really hard and she's a fighter,' he said. 'She's getting some of the gratification for all that hard work, so I'm proud of her in that respect. But I still think that there's a lot more out there and she can really continue to improve. She's managing her game and as a result, she's improving.'

Along with her sister, Collymore is thinking about training with the national team this January. After college, she is toying with the thought of playing in a pro tour overseas. And after that, she still hopes to attend grad school.

McLaughlin said that while his senior may not be able to accomplish everything she wants to do now, he believes she's capable of it in the future.

'I think the great ones can prioritize in different stages in life,' he said. 'If you're everywhere, you're nowhere. You've got pick and choose what you want to be. I think that's what she is doing and at some point over the long haul, she'll do it all.'

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