Britney Carlson

Meet Britney!

I'm Britney and I'm in my third year of exercise physiology. I'm from Sydney but I lived overseas for a while. I lived in Germany for nine years, but it wasn’t nine consecutive years- I sort of bounced back and fourth. I did part of high school in Germany, so I also speak German as well. Sport is a big part of my life, mostly volleyball. I also like arts and that kind of thing as well.  

She had a long and varied road to finding her place in volleyball

I've been doing sport since a very young age. Both my parents are very sporty people; they grew up doing sports so naturally we also grew up doing sports. Swimming was the first sport I got involved with. I swam all the way through school but also did everything else; netball, dancing, tennis... even if it was just for a little bit of time I tried them all.  

My Dad used to play volleyball, so growing up he taught us how to play. I first got involved in actually training and playing when I was about twelve. It was with a junior development squad here in Sydney where you would go every week for a couple of hours and do drills and learn technique. We got to play a few games as well so it was fun.   

When I moved back to Germany I didn't pick it up again straight away. I stopped and did more swimming. After a while, though, I found I had more interest in volleyball than swimming. One of my friends was like 'hey we have a club team, you should come join us.' I was doing both for a while but it was too much with school work and trying to have a social life and everything. I had to choose one and I chose volleyball. When I came to uni I just rocked up to the stall at O-week and was like 'I play volleyball, what can I do?'  

I find that people often give up to quickly when getting involved in sport. I get that initially it can seem quite daunting, particularly if the club you're at doesn't have a great beginner program, but you just have to keep looking around until you find something that works. 

For me with swimming, while I lost interest in it, I picked up another sport instead. I feel like a lot of girls just lose interest or give up and drop it all together. The first thing you try may not work for you, but there will definitely be something out there that you'll love. 

Balancing an intense degree with sport can be difficult at time, but is ultimately very rewarding

Usually I'm at uni 5 days a week, and some days I'm here 9-6 with only two hours break, or 10-5 with no break at all so it's very full on. The good thing is that volleyball is usually in the evenings. I try and work my timetable so I don't have too many late classes. It’s good to have that afternoon off to chill out and do some work before volleyball.  

A lot of the tournaments and games are on the weekends and in our main competition season we play every Sunday, so you just have to make time for everything.  I make a big calendar and just go 'right, Sundays are out.' No matter if it's a morning game or an afternoon game, Sundays are just volleyball days, then everything else just works around that.  

Generally if there's only a little bit of work to be done and I feel confident with it then it's not too hard to fit everything in. But when it's exam time I just have to make sure I plan everything out. I mean, I have tournament coming up this weekend and an exam on Monday so I know I need to be like 'Thursday and Friday are dedicated to study,' so that way I can at least enjoy my weekend as well. 

I don't want volleyball to become a chore. I want it to be that I can play volleyball and just forget about all that stuff and then worry about it afterwards. That said, if things are really busy I find myself studying between games or on the bus or wherever I can. If you want to make it work you can always find a way.   

I've pretty much accepted the fact that volleyball has just taken over my life. Between playing, refereeing games, and coaching, there's always something volleyball related going on. It takes time to find that balance because training can take over everything. Unless you're super dedicated to excel in your sport I think that you need to find the right balance for you.   

If I wasn't involved in volleyball, I don’t think I would have made such a tight friendship group. Volleyball is a team sport, so you spend a lot of time with that team, especially the students. Most of them are my best friends and we always hang out together. Without volleyball I would have a different sort of friendship group, probably just people in my course or whatever. Just getting to know new people is always good. There's new faces coming into volleyball all the time and I love getting to know and helping the beginners. You really get to know all kinds of people.  

We've had some great times together that make the training all worth it. This past unigames in Perth, we came third and won bronze, which was awesome. We just lost the semi-final in five sets, it was 13-15, so we just missed out. We were playing USyd in the play-off, and they're one of our biggest rivals. We had a 10 point lead and then lost that lead after one girl on their team went to serve. She was an amazing player and she served USyd back into the game. So it was neck-and-neck and we ended up winning 16-14. I'm pretty sure we played for like two and a half hours or something. It was just such a great feeling! Our team was up, then we were down, then we were up again and to see everyone just get into it and come back from everything and get the bronze medal was amazing.  

The biggest thing I would say to girls who aren't yet involved in sport is that you don't really know until you try it. Put yourself out there and give it a go. Even if you suck at it, that's totally fine. I mean, if I went to play soccer then I would be terrible at it! But I would still give it a go and see if it's something I like. If you find that you don't enjoy it, that's totally fine but that doesn't mean you should stop looking. Keep looking around for different activities and find the one that's best suited to you.