Coming off the NESCAC championship, women’s volleyball is determined to repeat as champions and make a deeper run into the NCAA tournament. Mary John ’25 was hard at work over the summer, participating in an open gym at Columbia University from the end of June through the end of August. The group consisted of players spanning all different collegiate sporting levels, including Division I.
The open gym ran for two hours each night from Monday through Thursday. John learned about the opportunity through some of her high school club teammates.
“I have some old high school club teammates who know some girls who play at Columbia currently,” John said. “There weren’t any coaches. We would warm up and then do some easy drills and then just play. It was a good experience for us all to stay in shape and get touches over the summer.”
John is grateful for the opportunity and believes she has improved greatly because of her experience.
“I definitely feel like it helped me a lot heading into preseason because some girls on the team didn’t really have access to a gym—a volleyball gym—at all over the summer…So to be able to be consistently playing, especially with high-level athletes, I think helped me prepare physically and mentally going into the season, especially at an older age where I might be on the court more,” John said.
In particular, John feels playing with Division I athletes was especially valuable.
“Meeting these new athletes who maybe in the past I would be intimidated by, and getting to know them and play with them and learn from them—it was a confidence boost knowing that I can keep up with them,” John said.
Despite Bowdoin being at the top of John’s list after talking with Head Coach Erin Cady and visiting the school, she wasn’t always sure she wanted to come. Her older sister and father both attended Bowdoin, so she initially wanted to go somewhere else to prove to herself that she could take a different route and find independence from the rest of her family.
She applied to another school where she wouldn’t play volleyball, but ultimately decided to reach out to Coach Cady again and apply to Bowdoin.
“I just realized that I wanted to be at Bowdoin regardless, and that the only thing stopping me was me just trying to prove myself, which I realized was kind of silly for such a big decision,” John said. “I was really excited when I eventually did get a spot, because that was the dream was to be able to go to Bowdoin and also be on the team.”
John’s goal for this season is to get more playing time and contribute to a NESCAC championship run.
“Some goals for my season would be to keep up the standard of trying to win NESCACs again and get further in the NCAA tournament this year, because we didn’t do as well as we had hoped last year,” John said. “And then personally [to] just keep working hard, get on the court more, just keep pushing myself and believing in myself that I can get there and [that I] belong there.”