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Olivia Wright

Varsity Volleyball outside hitter focuses on new opportunities as pandemic limits her playtime.

Olivia Wright

Sophomore Olivia Wright strikes for perfection on and off the volleyball court, but the pandemic has interrupted both her season and routine. Wright has bounced back using lessons learned in volleyball to seize control of her current academics and daily life.

In losing both time to play and having to adapt to a digitized classroom, Wright felt a detachment from her passion for active learning. By mid semester, she struggled with chronic procrastination and engaging with her math and language classes. 

“I was just super sad, and it affected my playing- it affected a lot of things that were important to me,” Wright said, as her playtime waned from 16 hour per week in season for varsity to just nine hours for the 805 Elite Volleyball Club. 

Remember your “controllables”

RINGING REMINDER: Wright wears her silver ring daily as a reminder of what her co-coach, Caroline Walters, has taught her.

Pummeled by persistent stress, Wright ultimately lost control over her highschool experience. Unsure of how to approach life in quarantine, Wright took the advice of her club coach and co-coach for the Cal Poly Women’s Volleyball team, Caroline Walters. 

“She pounded on us from the beginning of all this COVID stuff to just remember our controllables. You can’t control COVID life. You can’t control what’s going on in the world, so control what you are doing now. What are you going to do to make your life better even if your life right now isn’t that good?” Wright said.

The phrase “controllable,” which now adorns a silver ring that Wright commissioned over this summer, is her reminder to appreciate the present and pursue other opportunities available to her. 

“I was like, I can’t control that, so just remember what’s important to you and just keep going,” Wright said.

Cuesta solutions

She has since committed two Cuesta classes this semester to explore her interest in nutrition and geography. 

She aspires to complete her Associate in Arts (AA) degree— a total of six additional Cuesta courses— during the next two and half years left in her high school career. 

OUTSIDE HIT: Wright demonstrates her defensive moves at Centennial Park.

New outlook, new freedoms — and waves

Finding a new interest in academics, Wright also strived to pick another athletic pastime, surfing, as a way to bond with her father.

Wright has asked her father, who has been surfing since he was 15, to teach her how to surf on weekdays over the summer. As Wright graduated from a long board to short board, the time spent with her dad has strengthened their relationship. 

“I didn’t talk to him like I did with my mom. Being out on the water and getting closer with him, I definitely tell him a lot more than I used to… I really feel like I can talk to him about anything,” Wright said. 

Wright has learned to use her lost time to master a new skill: mindfulness. At her favorite spot, Moonstone beach, Wright paddles into the wide waters on her short board, and there just beyond the break before white water plunges out, she drops in effortlessly, claiming her wave. 



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