This morning, Volleyblog Seattle spoke by phone to University of Washington recruit Melanie Wade, who officially enrolled for the fall quarter this week. The 6’5 hitter is a senior at Palo Alto High School, in the shadow of Stanford University. Here are edited excerpts from our conversation:
What other sports did you play besides volleyball?
I played soccer. And I was absolutely horrible. I was so tall and uncoordinated at that time. But then, in sixth grade, my mom signed me up for the volleyball team. And I absolutely fell in love with it. And I’ve been playing ever since.
It was something I was good at. You know, it is the complete team sport, everyone relies on each other. And there’s a lot of scoring in volleyball. In soccer, you make, like, one or two goals a game. But in volleyball, there’s opportunities for constantly scoring.
|Melanie Wade, at 2011 Junior Nationals in Atlanta|
You’re 6’5. What do people not understand about being tall?
People always tell me I’m tall, which is pretty obvious. They’ll say, “Wow, you’re so tall!” and “How tall are you?” And then, I’ll tell them how tall I am, knowing, well, thanks for reminding me, thank you. (chuckles) Growing up, everyone expected me to play basketball. But, I tried it when I was younger. I just didn’t like it as much as soccer, even. But, I enjoy being tall.
You have one brother?
Yes, I have a twin brother, Thomas.
Does Thomas play sports, too?
No, he sings. We’re complete opposites. He’s going to major in music at San Francisco Conservatory.
Are you a good singer?
Oh, god, no. I’m horrible. I am the worst singer you’ll ever hear.
What drew you to the University Washington?
I went up and visited, and I absolutely loved it. The coaches were just amazing. And they were so knowledgeable about volleyball. Obviously, Seattle is a great place to be. And the team was super nice.
Aren’t athletes at other schools nice?
Other schools are definitely nice. But I felt especially welcomed when I was visiting up there. Like, all the team members would come up and talk to me. Whereas, on some of the other visits I went on, it was—I don’t know, it was harder to talk with some of the girls because they wouldn’t come up to you and say hi. But at Washington, everyone on the team introduced themselves and asked me how I was. It was nice to have that; they made me feel more comfortable.
You grew up in Palo Alto. Were you a Stanford volleyball fan?
Yes I was. I was definitely a Stanford fan. Going to the games, I idolized all of those players.
Are you looking forward to playing against Stanford in college?
Yes, I am. It will be very weird to be actually on the same court that I’ve been watching all these players playing all these years. I’m looking forward to it.
You played on a Palo Alto High School team that won two consecutive state titles. I hear that each of the championship matches were cliffhangers.
In both years, we were behind in the fifth set. And we just kept fighting back, and we won both sets.
What position would you like to play at Washington?
I’ve played middle, outside and right side in high school and club. Honestly, it just comes down to where I fit in best in Jim’s (UW coach Jim McLaughlin’s) system.
How’s your passing?
I’m always in the gym trying to get as many reps as I can, because it’s one of the most fundamental and important skills in volleyball
Fellow 2012 freshman Lianna Sybeldon says she stayed with you and your family when Washington played in the Bay Area last season.
We dressed up in, like, crazy outfits. Lianna had gold leggings on. (laughs.) It was really funny.
Any idea what you’ll study at Washington?
I like History; it’s very interesting to me.
The mountains or the coast?
Hard to say. I’m not a hot weather person, that’s for sure. It was, like, 85 here the other day, and I was dying. I like the coast, but—I have to say—I like the mountains, too.