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Finding Meaning in the Moment: Sage Patchell

Apr 25, 2022

You constantly are told to not take anything for granted, but doing so is easier said than done. For Utah Beach Volleyball senior Sage Patchell, she has learned to appreciate every experience that comes her way and just learn to be in the moment.

Patchell was born in Laguna Beach, Calif., where her dad, Shawn, was the head volleyball coach at Laguna Beach High School. Her father played volleyball at BYU where he helped the program navigate its transition from a club team to joining the NCAA. Shawn would go on to play professionally in Spain and after wrapping up his career overseas, he would return to the states to coach. He started in the high school scene before coaching at various colleges and with USA Volleyball. He is currently the head coach at Long Island University where he helped start the men's volleyball program in 2021.
"Some of my earliest memories growing up are just peppering with my dad," said Patchell. "I just always wanted to play with and be like him. He's just really consistent with everything he does and he's very level-headed which is what makes him a great dad and coach. He's always honest and I think he's one of the best coaches I've ever had, so I love hearing his advice and I know he loves watching me play."

Patchell would continue competing as an outside hitter in both her school and club indoor teams. She was a member of the T-Street Volleyball Club, the Tamarack Beach Volleyball Club, and a three-year varsity member at Laguna Beach High School. Patchell always enjoyed indoor volleyball, but a change from the hardwood to the sand helped her find a new version of the game she quickly fell in love with.  

"I've played volleyball my entire life, but it was really my junior year when I started to really enjoy beach volleyball," said Patchell. "I started to burn out and become bored with indoor, so my dad suggested that I started playing more beach. I began playing more competitively and I realized I could take a lot of my skills from indoor, but the game was also different enough that it pushed me athletically and even mentally in new ways. It reinvigorated my love of indoor as well."
Patchell only had one offer to play in college and she would take it to become a member of the Arizona State beach team. After one season in Tempe, she decided to step away from the sand and serve a mission in the big apple.

"I just really felt a calling to serve the people of New York and the lord," said Patchell. "It was an awesome experience, and I loved my time out there. It was a big change, but I enjoyed working with so many diverse cultures and it's a time in my life I'll never forget."
When Patchell left for New York, she assumed her playing days were behind her, but Utah Beach Volleyball head coach Brenda Whicker had other plans.

"Coach Whicker reached out to me before I left on my mission and kept checking in on me while I was in New York," said Patchell. "When I only had a few months left, coach Whicker said they had a spot for me and that they really wanted me to join their team. I took that as a blessing and felt like I got the best of both worlds and committed to Utah while I was still on my mission."
Patchell joined the team in 2020 and had to deal with all the challenges the COVID-19 Pandemic presented during the offseason and 2021 beach season.

"It was a very formative year for me and the program with all the obstacles we had to overcome," said Patchell. "I hadn't played volleyball in over a year and a half, so it was challenging physically and mentally but that allowed me to grow closer with coaches."
For the 2022 season, Patchell would be one of just four returning players making her one of the teams' leaders on a beach squad with 10 new contributors. Being a leader is something Patchell has relished in and has loved her role with this team.

"Honestly it's been a lot smoother of a transition then I anticipated it would be," said Patchell. "All the freshmen this year are great and they are all hard workers. Everyone supports each other and it's been a good year. It's been great being a leader this season, and I just try to remind them of the little things and give them advice on navigating being a student athlete. My experiences on my mission really helped to prepare me to become a captain and it's been super fun."
Patchell's partner on the sand - true freshman Amaya Messier - feels her game has already been impacted greatly since meeting the senior captain.

"I think what makes her such an awesome leader is that she leads by example and is always true to her values no matter the circumstances," said Messier. "She always does the right thing and is a super supportive teammate, not to mention she's also hardworking. I think something I've taken away from her leadership is to stay confident in your skills and who you are as a person in every situation."
This will be Patchell's second and final year with the team, but she will be remaining at the U in an academic services role in the athletics department. Patchell is getting her bachelor's degree in English and with her time as an athlete coming to a close, she's appreciative of all the opportunities she's had.
"College is so short and I have definitely prolonged it as much as I possibly could, and it still feels like it's gone by in the blink of an eye," said Patchell. "Volleyball has given me an opportunity to be a part of something that's bigger than myself and playing here has given me so many great experiences. I've been talking to the freshmen a lot about those days when it seems hard and you're tired, hurting, and overwhelmed with school, but to just really try and find meaning in the moment."