When was the last time you received a hand written letter or even wrote one, yourself?
With the recruiting wars of college sports taking place on the internet, email, text messages, and glossy sports media guides, it was a hand written letter that made the difference for Julia Gibbs, SJS ’09.
Gibbs plays volleyball for Middlebury College in Vermont, and she has already appeared twice in the volleyball news on their website. Click on the link and Julia’s smiling face shines brightly alongside the story about #13 and her 13 digs that have given Middlebury their latest win and an18-4 record going into tonight’s big game against Williams. A few more clicks and you can get to their blog, a team video, and much more.
Even though Gibbs is now entwined in the social media of Middlebury Athletics, modern communication has nothing to do with why she wanted to go to a small town in Vermont where John Deere began experimenting with the techniques that led to the steel plow.
“Coach Raunecker was the only coach in the recruiting process that sent me a hand written letter,” said Gibbs. “Her style reflects the whole athletic environment, which is very supportive and personal. I am right where I need to be, surrounded by caring people on and off the court.”
“Division III athletics is a lot like my experience at St. John’s,” said Julia. “It is different than the rigorous DI programs in that it does not consume us entirely, but it gives us a solid structure to work around. Without athletics I would be lacking boundaries and direction. St. John’s gave me that during volleyball season, but I wish I had taken advantage of the other Maverick athletic opportunities. I finally swam my Senior year, and realized what I was missing.
Sarah Raunecker, Middlebury’s Head Volleyball coach, is very glad that she did not miss out on Julia in the recruiting process. “What we needed was a strong presence on the right side. Julia has been able to step in right away and can set anything in our offensive repertoire, which is amazing. She's currently ranked second in the NESCAC Conference in Service Aces, and gives us a full-spectrum offense, which is a large reason for our success this year! We're enjoying her energy and enthusiasm, and she's added tremendously to our MIDD Volleyball Family in both skills and personality.”
“I showed up here a little tentative, but by being open to meeting new people and creating meaningful relationships, I am fully engaged in the student-athlete experience,” said Gibbs. “Caring people motivate me to do my best.”
While Gibbs is relishing her role on the court, and has won the “sprint” to DIII athletics, her ability to establish relationships with her teammates and coaches is keeping her in the “marathon” of the game. Grounded like Deere’s plow, and strong on the right side, Gibbs is on her way to a Varsity letter, once again signed by Coach Raunecker!