November 5, 2008

Q and A: Volleyball Player Chelsea Ross

Nov. 5, 2008

By Keenan Bowen, EWU Sports Information

Eagle senior Chelsea Ross' career has been one of ups and downs at Eastern Washington. The outside hitter from Burns, Ore., has spent five seasons on the Eastern roster but has only been able to play 2-1/2 seasons due to chronic knee injuries.

After arriving on campus out of Burns High School in 2004, Ross spent her first season redshirting. Ross missed the entire 2005 season because of her knee injuries. In 2006, Ross appeared in 28 contests as a role player off the bench. Ross had an amazing match in one of Eastern Washington's most crucial contests of that season, hitting .692 (9-0-13) in EWU's three-set sweep of Portland State in the Big Sky Conference semifinals. That hitting average is good for third best in Big Sky Tournament history.

In 2007, Ross appeared in 22 matches, recorded 10 double-digit kill totals and earned Big Sky Conference All-Academic team honors. The injury bug struck again in a match against Montana that ended her season.

This season, Ross has played more in the back row than in earlier seasons and has contributed 61 digs. Ten of those came in a 3-1 win over defending Big Sky regular-season champion Portland State on Oct. 10.

The Eastern Washington University volleyball team wraps up its 2008 home schedule this weekend with a Thursday match (Nov. 6) versus Northern Arizona and a Saturday Senior Night contest (Nov. 8) against first-place Northern Colorado. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.

Q: What will you miss most about the volleyball program here at EWU?

A: "I would have to say my teammates. The camaraderie you have on a team after spending countless hours in the gym, weight room and on road trips is unexplainable. You've all been through the blood, sweat and tears that come with college athletics. The wins, the losses, everything together - I will definitely miss that."

Q: How hard has it been dealing with injuries throughout your career?

A: "My injuries have been a huge obstacle to overcome throughout my career. In my five years at EWU I will have only been physically able to compete in 2-1/2 seasons. I was given bad knees and that is something I have always dealt with and will continue to deal with for the rest of my life. I have had five operations on my knees, so obviously my speed and jumping ability has been extremely affected. However, I do believe these limitations have made me a more cerebral player due to my lack of physicality."

Q: You had a .692 hitting match against Portland State in the 2006 BSC semifinals, which was good for third-best hitting percentage in Big Sky Tournament history. What was that like?

A: "That match was definitely a highlight for me. 2006 was my first year actually competing in matches, and I was a role player who came in here and there to change the flow of a match. Therefore, it meant a lot to me to be able to contribute to the team in such an important match. Plus it's always cool to be in the record books."

Q: What are your plans for after college and volleyball? Will you keep volleyball as part of your life?

A: "After finishing my master's degree in mental health counseling next year, I plan to start looking for a career as a therapist. I'm not really sure of where that might take me, but I'm excited to start a new chapter in my life. As far as volleyball, I definitely plan to keep playing. However, it will only be recreationally. My body is ready to be done at this level, but I will guarantee I will still be competing whenever I pick up a volleyball."

Q: What was the adjustment like coming from Burns, Ore. (population 3,000), out of high school?

A: "I would say it was a pretty big adjustment for me both personally and volleyball wise. I was a small-town girl who hadn't been on an airplane or driven on a freeway, so you can imagine the adjustment. Volleyball was also a big change. Coming from a small town and never playing club volleyball, I had never played at this level before. Honestly, college volleyball has been like a completely different sport compared to my high school experience."

Q: What goals do you have for the remainder of the 2008 season?

A: "As a team I would like to win the BSC Tournament, since we have not done so in my four years here. It would be a great ending to my career to make it to the NCAA Tournament. Personally, I am just trying to enjoy my last matches as an Eagle. Of course there are technical goals I would like to achieve on the court; however, my main focus is to enjoy the short time we have left."

Q: What do you like most about volleyball?

A: "The competition, the love of winning and competing to win. It's always fun when you're successful, and most college athletes live for those moments."

Q: If you were stranded on an island, and could have one teammate with you, who would it be and why?

A: "I would have to say Alysha Cook! She is the only girl I know who purchases a hunting magazine for airport reading on trips. She would definitely be my choice, as she would be my best chance at survival."

Q: Who have been the most influential people in your playing career?

A: "My family. They have been with me through everything. They have provided encouragement, emotional support and even taken care of me physically after every surgery. After five years of playing they are still the first people I call after every match. They have played a huge role in my decision to keep playing despite adversity."

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