PARRISH — The flight from North Carolina landed in Tampa in time for Maggie Holbert to reach her Parrish home by midnight. By 9:30 the next morning, Holbert was at Manatee Public Beach working on her beach volleyball game. The next morning, she was heading north on Interstate 75 on her way to a volleyball camp at Auburn University.
Holbert might want to change the ring tone on her cell phone to Johnny Cash singing, “I’ve been everywhere, man.”
Because Holbert, who will be a senior at Saint Stephen’s this year, has been everywhere during the past two summers in pursuit of a college volleyball scholarship.
Where have you been, Maggie?
“Goodness,” she said.
And by goodness, Holbert means Puerto Rico, Virginia Beach, Detroit and Hermosa Beach, Calif., for beach volleyball tournaments; the universities of Nebraska, North Carolina, Auburn and Florida Southern for volleyball camps; and the universities of North Carolina-Asheville, UNC-Charlotte, Alabama-Birmingham, Alabama Southern, South Florida, William and Mary and the College of Charleston just to visit the schools and check out the volleyball facilities.
That may not be everywhere, but it’s close.
“Maggie knows how to get around an airport,” said Maggie’s mother, Sharon.
Holbert is a setter for the Falcons who has dared to dream of someday playing Olympic volleyball. Right now, she’d settle for a Division I-A scholarship.
Toward that end, Holbert has introduced herself to just about every volleyball coach in the country in the form of a three-page resume that she updates and e-mails every week or so and a 20-minute DVD of herself playing and training that she has mailed around the country.
“You have to send updates to coaches so they don’t forget about you,” Holbert said.
This is how it works for a good many prospective college athletes who aren’t top-rated quarterbacks or point guards.
Those who coach non-revenue college sports simply don’t have the budget to come to you. You have to go to them.
“Sell yourself,” Holbert said. “That’s what you have to do.”
That’s why Holbert attends as many college camps and plays in as many tournaments as possible. That’s where you find the coaches, and the coaches can measure your skills against other players with the same goals.
“You have to do a lot of the work yourself,” Saint Stephen’s volleyball coach Nancy Cothron said.
The summer between sophomore and junior year is the most important time of the recruiting process.
Last summer, Holbert crisscrossed the country, playing beach volleyball tournaments with her partner, Amanda Walker, who lives in Virginia Beach.
Holbert attended three camps at the University of North Carolina — beach, indoor and elite-setter camp. She also attended a beach volleyball camp at the University of Nebraska.
Not a day goes by when Holbert isn’t doing something volleyball related, even if it’s only working on her setting by bouncing a volleyball off the side of her house.
“Volleyball is my job,” she said.
Holbert hopes to make it a career, as player or coach.
That’s why she willingly updates her resume and slips more DVDs in the mail. That’s why she followed a relaxing three-week vacation last month with her relatives in Asheville, N.C., with a breakneck tour of Alabama colleges and a stopover at the Auburn camp.
“This is exciting,” she said. “It’s nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time. You never know what’s going to happen, which coach is looking at you, what players they are also looking at. My determination to accomplish what I’m doing is what’s keeping my name out there.”