Vansant's Commitment To Excellence

By Adam Panetta

We all have the ability to be great, but few capitalize on it. It takes more than talent alone. There is a commitment that we all must make to reach our goals, but most of us are scared to succeed. We're comfortable where we are and don't see a need for change. We accept being just average.

UW freshman outside hitter Krista Vansant has excelled on the volleyball court, but it's her commitment to excellence both on and off the court that separates Vansant from the rest.

Vansant is known across the nation as an amazing volleyball player. She was the consensus number one recruit in the nation for volleyball and was named the Gatorade 2010-11 National Volleyball Player of the Year. She is an anchor for the No.11 Huskies, almost never leaving the court. For the weeks of Aug. 29 and Sept. 5, Vansant was named Pac-12 Women's Freshman Volleyball Player of the Week.  

She's good. Really good.

But, there's something that separates Vansant from most Division-I student-athletes. It starts with humility. Vansant has received numerous awards and all kinds of hype for her talents, yet carries herself with a humble "team-first" mentality. It would be easy for her to walk around with a "me-first" swagger but that just wouldn't be Vansant. Her commitment to winning won't let her lose sight of both her short and long-term goals.

"While at Washington I would like to win Freshman of the Year, an MVP award and, at least, one national championship. For the future, I would love to play professionally overseas and make an Olympic team," said Vansant.

Vansant always brings the passion and love for the sport to practice.

"I try to work on the little things everyday. Perfecting those is what makes you great," said Vansant. She sweats the small stuff, making sure every facet of her game is as fundamentally sound as possible.

Vansant's commitment to excellence is rooted in her childhood in Redlands, Calif. She began playing volleyball at eight years old, quite young for the sport. She would spend countless hours practicing her shots, digs and sets. Vansant pushed herself, day in and day out, to reach her full potential and still continues to do so.

During her off-seasons at Redlands East Valley High School, Vansant made her presence known in the community by reading to elementary school children and coaching at youth volleyball camps. This made her a role model, someone young girls with similar dreams could look up to.

Vansant boasted a 3.64 GPA in high school while being the most recruited athlete in her sport.

"It was easy to balance school and volleyball in high school, but college is different," said Vansant. "There is more of a time commitment to the sport and classes are harder. My schedule is pretty busy."

Let's walk through a day in the life of the volleyball star.

It starts bright and early with passing practice from 8:15 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. She then has a fifty-minute class at 9:30 a.m., followed by a quick snack before another class at 11:30 a.m. After hustling back to the dorm for lunch, Vansant grabs her books for another class at 1:20 p.m. before heading to practice at 4:00 p.m. Practice is over around 6:00 p.m. and is followed by a team dinner. Vansant then has a tutor from 8:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. before returning to the dorm at approximately 9:30 p.m. where she finishes her homework before catching some shuteye.

Rinse and repeat five times a week, add a couple of games each weekend, and voilà, you have commitment.

Vansant defines what it means to be a student-athlete. At a time when most star college athletes are coasting through classes and focusing all their efforts to reach the professional ranks of their sport, Vansant is hitting the books, hard.

As she perfects her craft both on and off the court, Vansant is adjusting to a new life in Pacific Northwest. While the demands of being a student-athlete are high, she hopes to build a presence with the Seattle community and propel her team to a Pac-12 championship, all while maintaining a superb GPA.

With her commitment to excellence both on and off the court, Vansant is sure to shine in the future.

Washington tries to crack the top 10 of the Pac-12 loaded AVCA coach's poll in a pair of pivotal matches this weekend as they play host to No. 3 Stanford on Friday, Nov. 11 and No. 3 California on Saturday, Nov. 12.

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