Athlete of the Issue: Sobenna Egwuekwe

After a year of playing on outdoor grass and no competition, Sobenna Egwuekwe ’22 is ready to step into the captain role for the volleyball team and lead her teammates into a new season. Sobenna has played volleyball for five years now, playing on the varsity team since fourth form. 

When did you first start playing volleyball?

I started playing volleyball my ninth-grade year at Fay, the junior boarding school I attended before Groton. It wasn’t even on my radar to play. I was going to play intramural tennis again until my dorm head, who was also the volleyball coach, said because of my height I should try it out–I did and I liked it.

What is your favorite part of volleyball?

Having so many supporters and having a team with you at all times cheering. 

I played tennis for as long as I could remember, and it wasn’t until I started playing volleyball when I remembered how lonely and quiet tennis was. In volleyball, everyone is loud and cheering whether on the court or the sideline, keeping the energy up and keeping the team at its best. Unlike tennis, there is a realm of supporters keeping you from getting inside your head. There’s a lot of heckling in volleyball, so it’s nice to have people telling you to “shake it off,” or “you got this” when you make a mistake and hold the feeling of you letting the team down. 

What is your best memory of Groton Volleyball?

Definitely the dance sessions. We are a DANCING team for SURE. It was one of our first games in my fourth form year and Coach Wallace huddled us up and said, “Go get some energy, run around. I don’t care, just go somewhere and get hyped.” We were confused but we didn’t ask questions. We ran to the locker room with a speaker blasting music and had a full-on dance party. That was the first time we had done it, and now we do it before each game. 

How did Groton help you develop as a player?

Coming into Groton I had only played one season of middle school volleyball. We didn’t even have permanent positions, we just played everywhere and rotated. Ms. Wallace, Ms. Jin, and Ms. Riechenbach honed in on my skills and found me a position that I love playing.

What is the most important thing you took away from volleyball?

Teamwork and energy trump skill every day of the week. Doesn’t matter how good of a player you are. Skill can only get you so far. If you don’t work with your team or don’t help pick up your teammates when they make a mistake, especially in a sport where there’s a lot of heckling, you will never, as a team, be at your full potential. 

What do you look forward to in the upcoming season?

In all honesty, it’s just exciting to have a sense of normalcy again, playing other schools and actually be on a volleyball court rather than the grass outside the schoolhouse like this past year. I’m also excited about being captain of the team with two amazing good friends of mine, Naomi Boateng [’22] and Amelia Lee [’22]. It’s surreal given that Naomi and I started in third form on JV and now we’re captains of the Varsity team.