Posted On: 05/13/19 3:44 PM

For most student athletes, May can be kind of a hot mess of emotions.  The stress of school ending, the final details to tie up, summer on the brink, and when it’s all over its a short celebration before looking at the next upcoming event.  For student athletes in college, some may be traveling with their teams on an international trip, for those in high school they are gearing up for nationals and maybe making their final decision as to where they will go to college.  For Seniors in high school that are graduating, it can be an awkward time of inbetween with a lot of unknown to prepare for. For athletes like Brooke Anderson, Eleanor Holthaus, and Jenna Brandt that have finished up their Freshman year Iowa State, they were able take time to reflect on their first year of Division 1 college volleyball, how to handle recruiting, navigating a new environment, and relying on their new teammates to make the transition that much easier.

Brooke Anderson, alum of Lake Country Lutheran (WI) and Milwaukee Sting

For Anderson, a former Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year, said her club experience, playing for Milwaukee Sting at an extremely high level made for a smooth transition on the court for the soon to be 6’0 Sophomore outside hitter.

“It was nice to have really experienced coaches who taught me the game that helped me get here.”

Like all athletes or anyone really, there are always questions heading into any new situation.

“I was probably most nervous for the workouts.  I had weight lifted before, but not to the extreme at the college level.  With club, you maybe practice a few times a week where at Iowa State its practicing everyday, weightlifting, and having my body adjust to the everyday routine of the intensity.  The speed of the game is always an adjustment because everyone is the best here and you have to bring your best everyday.”

There is also the mental side of the intensity of practice and dealing with situations that may not go as planned.

“There are times where I thought “What if I have a bad day?”, but thats where you have to rely on your teammates at all times,” said Anderson who finished her high school career with a state title for Lake Country Lutheran in the Milwaukee area.

“I definitely talked to my roommates, the seniors on how they got through difficult times and how they adjusted.  My coaches were always there as well. There are always resources for you to go to because experienced it in some way and its nice to talk to someone else who has been through the transition.”

Eleanor Holthaus, alum of Rocori (MN) and MN Select (Photo: cyclones.com)

Holthaus and Brandt both come from successful club programs with Holthaus having playing experience with Northern Lights and MN Select and Brandt with Six Pack out of Cedar Falls, Iowa.  

“Coming in from a really high level helps with the pace of the game with other elite athletes really makes you take your game up a step,” said Holthaus.

Brandt echoed much of the same.

“I think the connections and people you meet along the way was a big experience of playing club for me.  You are always being challenged from others besides the people that you are comfortable around.”

For Brandt, a natural leader to her peers, the transition from being a leader on your high school to club team was a bit of a question mark heading into the college game and how those skills would transfer.

“For me, how are you going to take your leadership skills from high school and club.  You are comfortable with these people you are always around, but how are you going to take that into a new group of people and to a higher level,” said the Sumner-Fredericksburg alum.

The best way to adapt to a new situation is to find routine.  For Holthaus that was key in her transition to Iowa State.

Jenna Brandt, alum of Sumner-Fredericksburg (IA) and Six Pack (photo: cyclones.com)

“I think find a routine is really important.  Its like starting all over. You are used to your parents being a part of that and now its all you.  You have to figure out what works best for you.”

As for Brandt it was a matter of finding balance.

“Balance was so important for me.  I’m kind of a perfectionist where I want to be good at school, my social life, and volleyball.  Volleyball takes up a huge chunk of time in the fall and managing your time to still fit in other parts of your life is really important.”

Brandt is one of three “Brandt Sisters” where volleyball runs deep in their family with her older sister Kaylyn setting at UMKC from 2013-2016 and her younger sister, Morgan, recently committed to Iowa State from the Class of 2022.  

As far as the recruiting process goes, Brandt had some words of advice for athletes in thick of club ball and narrowing down their choices as to where they will play in college.

“Have fun, make use of the time.  Club volleyball is the time of your life.  The recruiting process is really crazy to be in the middle of it, but be very grateful for that opportunity to be in it.”