Written by: Michael Bicek
Jacksonville, FL – Florida State College at Jacksonville student-athlete Asante Lopez has had her share of challenges on a road leading to playing volleyball at the collegiate level. Lopez, 17, a University Christian High School graduate lives by the motto “go hard or go home.” — a motto that has helped give her the drive to play her absolute best on the court and to also succeed as a student, despite the struggles that come with both.
First-year college athletes can sometimes struggle with finding the perfect balance of practice and study time. Lopez knows how important an education is and aims to never lose sight of that. “Balancing school and volleyball can be hard at times, especially when the season starts,” said Lopez when asked how she handles both. “Stay focused on your academics because your education plays an important role.” The focus placed on Lopez’ academics also gives her time to work on accomplishing her athletic goals throughout the season as well. FSCJ Volleyball requires all players to attend a mandatory study hall that gives athletes time to focus on their studies.
“During the season, I hope to gain more leadership skills and just to have a fun and productive season overall,” said Lopez. It’s no surprise that a young athlete wants to get better, whether it be academically or as an leader to her teammates. After FSCJ, Lopez can see herself taking those athletic skills and leadership qualities to another college to play and to also further her academic career after she graduates from FSCJ.
When speaking with Lopez, she has the maturity and drive of a seasoned athlete, even though this is only her first year playing for the Blue Wave. She has been playing volleyball for over 6 years, originally starting her athletic career in Virginia — where she was born. For the Blue Wave, she plays the outside hitter and defensive specialist positions.
Having many positive influences in her life, Lopez looks to her private lessons coach Cole Davis as her driving force. “He taught me how to play volleyball,” said Lopez. Davis helped Lopez recover from two knee surgeries while she lived and played in Tennessee and became someone whom Lopez sees as a friend as well as her coach. Davis gives Lopez advice on many situations and helps her stay grounded in her athletic career.
However, when it comes to campus life, Lopez seems to have that under control all on her own. “I love the environment,” said Lopez when asked how she feels about FSCJ and her life on campus. She agrees that students that attend FSCJ are very friendly and seeing her fellow UC High School alumni around campus makes it much more comfortable as well.
The life of a student athlete isn’t always trophies and championships. Often, they are just trying to succeed similar to any other student on campus. Not all are able to handle the pressure of balancing their studies with sports practice. Others — like Asante Lopez — have a clear path in mind that allows them to focus on not just winning volleyball matches, but succeeding in academia as well.