Caitlyn Marsh grew up wanting to play for her parents’ alma matter, the BYU Cougars.
But when they told her that she wouldn’t be able to play in the program, it didn’t stop her from fulfilling one of her dreams of playing collegiate volleyball.
“I decided that I wanted to play volleyball and gain experience and grow with the sport I love,” the 2011 Fallon grad said. “So I got recruited and I wanted to show that I had it in me to play and that I could grow with the sport and make it relevant to my everyday life in college. There was nothing to prove, but everything to gain.”
After finishing her third year at Claflin, a Division II program in South Carolina, Marsh has seen her role improve as she’s become one of the more versatile players on the team. Originally recruited to play six rotations, Marsh found herself helping the team out in more ways than one.
“Because she gave us better productivity on the back row, we talked about and she agreed to doing what would help the team,” said Claflin coach Vernell Keitt-Capers, “and we saw where this would contribute to our instance success so we had her transition.”
The Panthers have won their division and made the playoffs while Marsh has been with the program. But Keitt-Capers wants to send her defensive specialist out on top with a title before Marsh graduates after next season.
“For the upcoming season, we look to continue to make Caitlyn a better person, defensive specialist,” Keitt-Capers said, “and to win a championship for her before she leaves Claflin University because she deserves it.”
Marsh spent a lot of time with her family during the recruiting process and visited National Scouting Report, where she sent information to 50 schools. When Claflin expressed interest two months later, Marsh visited South Carolina in November 2010 and knew before trying out that this was the best fit.
“I took a tour of the campus, met the team and even before the tryouts, I had fallen in love with the school,” Marsh said. “I tried out later in the day and the team dynamics flowed, I just knew compared to all the other schools I had visited this was the one. We went to eat at a very southern restaurant called Zaxby’s and I made my decision to sign and play for Claflin University.”
Marsh was pleased the entire visit but singled out the team dynamics and coaching staff as being the major persuader. She felt like part of the team already even though she still had seven months before graduating from Fallon.
“The determination of the coach and the support I felt gave me enough reason to jump out to South Carolina and try something new and open new doors to my future,” said Marsh, who’s majoring in business management with a minor in biology.
The only drawback to choosing Claflin was being on the other side of the country. But that didn’t dissuade Marsh as she counted on keeping in touch with family and friends through social media and email.
“A lot of people ask me about the distance, but I knew that I was going to be going to college for one reason: to go to school and that means I would be busy whether I was close to home or not,” Marsh said. “I even thought I was going to study in Japan at one time so either way, we knew I wasn’t going to be near, but thank goodness for wonderful technology.”
None of this would have been possible if Marsh didn’t turn in a solid career with Patty Daum’s Lady Wave and played club volleyball. Daum’s commitment to Marsh, the only female athlete in her class to sign a letter of intent, helped her reach the next level.
“During my high school career, my coach had so much faith in me and saw so much potential in my future,” Marsh said of Daum. “She pushed me further and worked me down until I couldn’t do anymore. When I wasn’t in club, she was working with me and helping me to improve and get to the skill she saw I could be at.”
One of the best gifts a high school student-athlete could give to a coach or even a parent was proof that all the hard work paid off.
“I was able to show her my thanks and appreciation for all the time she spent with me by signing with Claflin,” Marsh said. “She stayed with me from junior high school to high school. Not only her, but my father (Carl Marsh) was the one who got me started with volleyball and always was there to support me at my games and tell me what I could do to improve.”
Like with many former Fallon grads, family was beneficial to Caitlyn Marsh as she relied on them for travel to the weekday practices in Carson City or Reno and the many tournaments in the region.
“They were my strongest supporters and helpers in being able to find schools, the applying process and finding the path I was going to follow. They still support me in my season and games and in schooling activities,” Marsh said.
Off the court, Marsh hasn’t lost a step from her National Honor Society days in Fallon. Her busy schedule in high school, juggling classes and homework, sports and four clubs, made the transition to college much easier.
“There was no room for me to get behind in school and I learned to plan out my schedule by keeping on top of my studies and still being able to participate and play volleyball all year round,” said Marsh, who boasts a 3.98 grade-point average. “This really was just a penny in the bucket compared to real life and college, all put together for me at Claflin University.”
With only a year left at the South Carolina school, Marsh is ahead of the game, both on the court and in the classroom.