Q&A: Emily Brown dives into her preparation for the abnormal volleyball season ahead

Missouri volleyball’s only freshman sat down with The Maneater and spoke of Mizzou volleyball’s team culture, her goals and more.

Being a freshman in college is already demanding enough. Now, add a pandemic and being a Division-I athlete: that’s Missouri volleyball freshman Emily Brown’s world.

When Brown verbally committed to MU in July of 2018, she never could have guessed under which circumstances her freshman year would take place. The Indiana local is the only freshman on the volleyball roster in an unusual season.

Now she is preparing for a fall season that lacks an NCAA championship after NCAA President Mark Emmert announced on Aug. 13 that there would be no DI fall championships. When the fall schedule was announced on Wednesday morning, Brown shifted her focus to the developmental aspects of the game.

The Maneater: From what I understand, you had several schools recruiting you. So why did you pick Mizzou? Emily Brown: A big part of why I chose Mizzou would be the coaches because they have a lot of volleyball knowledge, and they played themselves. They’re young, and they're just good people too. They’re a big reason why I came here. Also, it just felt like home like when I was on campus, and I loved everything about it.

TM: How did you get involved in volleyball? EB: When I was in third grade, I was kind of friends with older girls just because that's who I grew up with. They were all in 5th grade and starting to play volleyball, so I was like, "Oh, I want to do it too," so I was not good at all, but I played on some teams, and then I ended up switching to a club that was a little more high-intensity. Then I just fell in love with the sport. I would always have a ball in my hand, and so I have been playing ever since.

TM: What experiences has the sport given to you, especially since you have played so long? EB: I’ve learned a lot from playing. I've definitely learned a lot about relationships and how to work with people because you're always playing with different people, and they always have different personalities. You have to learn how to get along with everybody. I've gotten to travel to a lot of cool places for tournaments, so that's been fun and I feel like it’s good to just see places around the world and see different things.

TM: What are your goals for the season? EB: My goal would be to make relationships on the team. Since I’m only a freshman, it's kind of important that I get to know the older girls and find my place on the team. I also want to make an impact because even though I'm a freshman, it's still important to have my voice be heard and just support the whole team.

TM: How did you guys grow closer as a team, especially since you couldn't do traditional team-bonding activities? EB: In the summer, we would go get breakfast sometimes and a girl on our team — she kind of posts about it — like the other day she had a breakfast; she cooked all this food and then the other night she had a pasta dinner. We can just do little things like that to get together, and in the summer, we would always get our food and go to somebody's house and we’d eat it together. It's the little things that we can do right now because of COVID like just getting to know each other, talking and getting food.

TM: How have the upperclassmen impacted your adjustment period? There's always an adjustment whenever you’re playing on a different team, so how did they impact that? EB: They've been super helpful, especially with lifting. When I first came in, I didn’t really know how to do everything correctly, and they were super helpful. I could just ask them anything, and they would always help me with volleyball, too. If there's something that the coaches talk about that I haven't learned yet or something they do differently here, they're super helpful. It was never like, “Oh you little freshman,” it’s always like, “Oh, this is what it is like.” They’re just being super supportive and helpful.

TM: How would you describe the team culture thus far? EB: Very competitive. When we play, it's always really intense and competitive, and everybody's very outgoing and super loud, fun and friendly.

TM: Can you tell me how you felt when you realized you're the only freshman on the roster? Was that intimidating? EB: I was a little nervous, to be honest, because it's scary, you know, coming to college for the first time. You usually have your other freshman with you to go through the same experiences, but it honestly has gone a lot better than I thought it would just because everybody's been super welcoming.

TM: Do you enjoy Mizzou volleyball so far? EB: It's a really busy schedule, but it's not like I'm super busy with things that I don't enjoy. I like to work out and obviously I love to play volleyball, so it's fun to see the improvement every practice and continu[e] to get better, so I’ve really enjoyed it. [The team] makes it a lot of fun, too, just because they're really high energy and always encourage everybody.

TM: What experiences do you want to take from this season, especially because of our current situation? EB: I would probably say that I would want to take away being thankful for every opportunity we get because [if you] take it for granted, you’re like, “Oh, another game, another season,” but with COVID and everything, it was kind of like, “Oh, maybe we’re not going to even be able to have a season,” so you realize how grateful you are to even have this opportunity.

TM: I know you haven't actually played a season with Mizzou volleyball yet, so I don't know how easy it will be to describe it. Based on the format, how different is this season going to be? EB: We're doing four weekends, and we'll play [the scheduled] team twice in that weekend, so that may be tiring, but, honestly, I think it would be good. Say we have things that we don't see or do well against that team in the first game; we can always fix that and come back the second game. I think the fact that we get to play in the fall and spring will help a lot, too, because we will have an edge up on the other teams who come to the NCAA tournament because we got to play more and have a longer season.

Edited by Maia Bond and Jack Soble | jsoble@themaneater.com

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