FIU SAND VOLLEYBALL PLAYER EMILY PODSCHWEIT
You would think the first-ever FIU sand volleyball signee would be from Florida, maybe California, but no, she's from Colorado by way of Iowa. Emily Podschweit comes to FIU from two land-locked states and with a pretty impressive sand volleyball resume. Podschweit has played sand volleyball with the U-19 U.S. national team around the world and trained with beach volleyball legend Misty May-Treanor. Podschweit started playing beach volleyball at age 11. She's also an outdoors person, who longboards, hikes, snowboards and imitates Batman. Podschweit, a "happy person", is elated and honest about the reception the sand volleyball program has received at FIU, even with a spoiler alert for some, below.
Let's go out of the cage and on the beach with Emily Podschweit. . . .
PP: Which term do you prefer sand volleyball or beach volleyball?
EP: The NCAA and FIU will call it sand volleyball because some inland states don't play it on a beach. Among the players, everyone calls it beach volleyball. Nobody calls it sand volleyball. Although, now it's starting to set in and I'll catch myself calling it sand volleyball. And I'll be like it's beach volleyball. But really there is no difference.
PP: You were born in Iowa and then moved to Colorado. Not exactly two hotbeds of beach volleyball. How did you get to playing beach volleyball?
EP: My dad is a videographer for USA volleyball where he makes instructional videos. My mom, Mary Kaye, is a volleyball coach. My mom jokes that since she has the same name as the cosmetics company, that you can call her Avon. She played beach volleyball. She was the one who got me into beach volleyball.
PP: What does it mean to you to be the first-ever signee for FIU sand volleyball and the first-ever signee for sand volleyball from Colorado?
EP: When coach Buck-Crockett first offered me the scholarship I was so excited. Being the first beach volleyball player at FIU is something I can look up to. It's very humbling to me, especially for someone who is not coming from a beach. I'm proud to be the first, especially coming from Colorado.
PP: Yeah, you came from two land-locked states in Iowa and Colorado. Corn and ski slopes. When was the last time you were first in something?
EP: [Laughs]. Yeah, I didn't think of it that way. The last time I was the first in something was when I won a limbo contest in my freshman SLS class the other day. We had a cultural project to do and somebody chose Hawaii. The group activity was the limbo contest and so I did it and I won. I was the only who didn't fall when they did the limbo.
EP: The most interesting place I've played has to be Anapa, Russia. There I played in a little beach town by the Black Sea. I made so many friends there and played real well with the U-19 national team. That's when I really locked myself into beach volleyball. That was my junior year of high school. Anapa was freaking beautiful. The culture was so chill. We first arrived in Moscow and I didn't really like Moscow because people were not friendly. There were forest fires going on in Moscow and every time you would step outside you would start crying because the smoke would get in your eyes.
The strangest place I've played in was the Czech Republic. When I was in seventh grade I went there on a missions trip with my church. There was one beach volleyball court in the middle of the forest. I taught the little children there how to play beach volleyball. This was in the middle of a forest and there were mosquitos all over the place. It was crazy. It was weird, but it was fun.
PP: What do you want to do with your major of communication arts?
EP: I want to be a yoga instructor. I also want to play volleyball professionally.
PP: Limbo winner, yoga instructor. I can see that. You have a very outgoing personality. In yoga you have to be quiet and reserved. Can you pull that off?
EP: [Laughs] I can be very quiet and spiritual too. I'm a happy person.
PP: And you're somewhat of an outdoors type?
EP: Yeah, I do longboarding. It's like skateboarding, but on a longer board. My friend and I went to Castlewood Canyon last May, where you can hike. And I was like, 'Ok, I'm going to go longboard down this hill.' I wiped out and got scarred up pretty bad. But here in Miami, there are no hills. I've wiped out down here a couple of times too, but that's how I get around. I love to hike, snowboard and ski. My friends and I also like to go spelunking. Do you know what that is?
PP: Yeah, cave diving. Are you related to Bruce Wayne?
EP: [Laughs] Nah, but spelunking is fun and it's scary.
PP: On average out of 10 random people, how many would you say correctly pronounce your last name on the first try?
EP: Probably, one of out 10. It's not that hard. You pronounce my last name, Podschweit, as "potch-white".
PP: How has the reception been around campus about beach volleyball?
EP: I get mixed reactions. A lot of people tell me it's a great sport. That it's awesome. It's in the Olympics. Then there are some people that tell me that beach volleyball is hot. I think it's more awesome than hot. Some people are like, 'There's beach volleyball at FIU?' and I tell them 'Yes, there is beach volleyball at FIU'.
Everyone is excited for the sport, but I will be honest, mostly everyone is excited about getting to watch girls play beach volleyball in bikinis. But that's not what they are going to get because of NCAA regulations. We have to be covered when we play in a match. We can't show our midriffs. We have to wear tank tops and probably spandex pants or boy shorts. No bikinis in matches, only in practices like today. Everyone always ask me, 'How do you play in a bikini?' and to be honest I would rather play in a bikini than in anything else because it gets so hot and sand sticks to your clothes and they become heavy. As long as you tie the bikini tight enough, it won't be a problem.
PP: You got a chance to train with Misty May-Treanor. I would imagine that would be like a quarterback getting to train with Peyton Manning. How was that experience?
EP: It was in my junior year of high school when I went to Russia. I actually knew Misty May before Russia. I helped coach at one of her clinics in Iowa. We have a mutual friend, Christine Phillips, who is the first person I met when I started playing beach volleyball in Chicago. Christine is really good friends with Misty. I've kept in contact with Misty through Twitter and Facebook. I consider Misty one of my biggest mentors.
PP: To an idiot like myself and to the casual volleyball fans, why do beach volleyball players and even indoor volleyball players flash numbers with their fingers behind their back before a serve?
EP: [Laughs] It's basically what you are blocking. If you have a one up on the left hand and a two up on the right hand. It means you are blocking line on the left and angle on the right. You could switch it and put a fist and that means you are not going to block that person. If you are not going to block then you are going to run back and play defense.
PP: What's the story behind the quote, "You'll Never Know", tattooed on your left bicep?
EP: It's actually a good story. I'm glad you asked me about it. It's a quote from a professional snowboarder, Travis Rice, in one of the most inspirational documentaries I've ever seen. The documentary is called "Art of Flight." One of his first quotes is, "You'll never know your full potential until you push yourself to find it." Basically, I've lived my whole life on that quote. Like when I can't get that last rep in on my bench press, I'll look at my arm and get it in. That quote is really meaningful to me.