By Calli Townsend
Emmaline Davey said she can’t imagine doing anything else.
The sophomore middle blocker at Judson University has been playing volleyball since sixth grade at New Life Christian Academy in Kimball, Michigan. Since her beginnings, she’s moved up in skill and intensity, playing for Michelle McCulloch’s Blue Water Volleyball club later in high school, and now for the Judson Eagles in Elgin, Illinois.
“Volleyball was important to me, but it wasn’t like I had to play in college,” Davey said. “Finding a school with my major was important, so volleyball wasn’t the first thing when I was looking at colleges.”
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Davey is majoring in interior design and minoring in architecture, which keeps her busy when she’s not on the courts or in the classroom. She said she’s had a lot of hands-on practice developing project proposals and creating 3D models to present in class.
Although her degree is a priority and she enjoys her classes and projects, she still devotes plenty of time to volleyball.
“But now that I am on the team, I can’t imagine not playing,” she said. “I think I would have too much time on my hands.”
She said club volleyball is where she really started to improve on the court and that has prepared her well for college-level play. Davey finished her freshman year with 57.5 total points, 23 blocks, and 44 kills.
“I went to a pretty small high school, so it eventually got to the point where I was outgrowing it. I learned a lot from my club and that’s where my talents really started to excel and develop,” she said. “I was on the nationals team in 2018.”
Davey credits McCulloch for pushing her to work hard and create an atmosphere of talented athletes looking to play at the next level. Many of Davey’s club teammates are still playing with McCulloch, but now as a college team at St. Clair County Community College.
“She pushed all of us and she knew when we had more in us. She pushed us to aim higher and reach our goals,” she said. “It was be there and be prepared to give 100% or get out of the gym.”
Over the summer, Davey remained dedicated in her training, even knowing she had no fall season to look forward to. Often times after working two jobs, she head to the gym to still get a workout in, to prepare for whenever her season would arrive.
The perseverance and toughness Davey developed during her high school years on the club team made her transition to college a little easier, both on and off the court. Not only did Davey find her new coach to be intense, but the social situations surrounding her also challenged her faith.
Like most colleges, just because Judson is a Christian University doesn’t mean there won’t be conflict and struggles. Davey said that the challenges she faced during her freshman year have strengthened her and given her a new perspective.
“I will say I’ve dealt with a lot more stuff this year, but I’ve grown so much since last year. I’ve been able to rebuild my relationship with Christ and I’ve been able to deal with things a lot better and be respectful of other views,” she said.
She said her goal for this year is inspired by Psalm 19:14, which says, “May these words of my mouth and this mediation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
She’s put her faith in action as she responds to the negative things people say to her and about her.
“Some people have said some awful things about me and I wasn’t supposed to hear them, and they were people I had reached out to. I’ll still be there for them, but I’ve just got to turn the other cheek,” she said. “I’m able to relate to people better this year because of the things I went through.”
Davey said she’s seen God’s faithfulness throughout this semester, even in her housing situation. Originally, she was supposed to have a roommate, but after that didn’t work out, she said it’s been a blessing in disguise to have her own room.
“God knew that was what I needed. It’s been great to have time to talk to my family or spend time doing devotions,” she said. “And I still have my suite mates, who are like roommates. They aren’t Christians, but we can still talk about deep things and one of them is trying to find herself and a faith. It just makes us closer and we’re still always there for each other.”
Despite its hardships, Davey said she’s grateful for her sport, her school, and her teammates.
“It’s definitely a stress reliever, even when I get frustrated or when I’m not doing well,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Photos Courtesy of Emmaline Davey.