Lauren Hackett, junior graphic design major and outside hitter on the women’s volleyball team at California Baptist University, participated at the U.S. National Team Open Tryouts March 3-5.
Tryouts took place in Colorado Springs, Colo., at the U.S. Olympic Training Center where Hackett was one of 238 athletes to participate and was the only participant at the tryouts from a NCAA Division II school.
“The confidence my coach had in me helped me understand I was good enough to go and just as good as any of the women who might have a big school name,” Hackett said.
Branden Higa, head coach of the women’s volleyball team, said he saw the tryouts as an opportunity to push his athletes and show them that they can play at a higher level.
“One of the things we want for this program is to create professional volleyball players and help women get to the next level,” Higa said.
Higa said this was the first time a CBU athlete has gone to try out for something so serious.
“Lauren was the first one, and she was the right one,” Higa said. “She was the pioneer and we will be sending more.”
Those who have played alongside Hackett, including former teammate Abbie Gortsema, graduate student in kinesiology, experienced firsthand the type of player Hackett is.
“Lauren is one of the most competitive people I know. She does whatever it takes to win, which makes her a great volleyball player,” Gortsema said. “She’s a great student and friend, she pours everything she has into what she does both on and off the court.”
Gortsema said she was excited for Hackett and her participation in the tryouts.
“I couldn’t think of a more deserving person to go to the USA tryout,” Gortsema said. “She’s a great leader and player, and she represented CBU really well at the tryouts.”
Hackett waits for a response from the U.S. national team regarding the next steps of the open tryout process.