When I was going through the volleyball recruiting process in high school, UCLA was the last school I looked at.
I wanted to go to a school away from my hometown of Westlake Village, California, but I remember emailing UCLA beach volleyball coach Stein Metzger a video of me playing because I figured I might as well check UCLA out.
I didn’t want to go to such a massive school, or one so close to home. UCLA didn’t have a beach-only coach or even beach-only players for that matter. The team practiced only twice a week and lost most games at the time. UCLA offered no scholarships, and the majority of the school didn’t seem to know there even was a beach volleyball program.
Despite all of that, I immediately loved something about UCLA and knew I wanted to be a Bruin.
I entered the UCLA Athletics world, what we like to call the “Bruin Bubble,” and suddenly any time I wanted to put in extra conditioning or more practice reps, there was always someone who wanted to join me. Many days were spent supporting other UCLA teams competing for conference and national titles.
Every day, I had the privilege of training alongside athletes whose names are known across the globe – in fact, three of my beach volleyball teammates have already gone on to start chasing Olympic dreams, and several of my friends on other teams have entered professional sports careers abroad.
This weekend, I get to meet up with a friend who graduated from UCLA water polo and has been playing in Italy while I’ve been in Dublin for an Irish Olympic qualifier. UCLA truly is a place of excellence.
And that’s not only in athletics.
Since I’ve been here, UCLA has been ranked as the No. 1 public institution in the U.S. and has been the most applied to school in the nation. We as students get the opportunity to learn from some of the most distinguished professors while studying alongside peers who will go on to make tangible impacts on the world we live in.
I am incredibly proud to be a UCLA Bruin and always will be.
I love John Wooden’s definition of success as being a peace of mind derived from self-satisfaction in your own effort. Regardless of outcomes these past four years, I am extremely satisfied with how UCLA positively shaped me into a woman with clear values, a better perspective of my place in the world and a strong pride in who I am.
But I’m not complaining that I also get to leave here with the satisfaction of saying that I am a back-to-back national champion, especially with the storybook ending of beating USC in my senior year final.
Carey competed for UCLA beach volleyball from 2016-2019.