Sun contributor Alyson Wong had a conversation with volleyball’s senior middle blocker Jenna Phelps to discuss her personal experiences with the sport and Cornell in general.
The transcript has been lightly edited for content and clarity.
- How did you first get into playing volleyball and what made you decide to continue throughout college?
My parents actually met playing volleyball. My dad was on a sand team and they needed a sub and my mom was friends with one of the girls on the team, so she subbed in. My mom played high school volleyball and so we kind of just grew up playing it. When I started playing club it was kind of an assumption that we would continue on. And early to middle of my high school [years], I was like I’m done, I’m burnt out, I don’t want to do it anymore — then I got on a new club team and it was so much fun. My coach was amazing and I was like, this is something I enjoy playing, this is something I want to continue on.
- What made you decide to come to Cornell?
I think the blend of academics and athletics is just a big draw. And being able to be in one of the best business schools in the country while playing something that I really enjoy.
- As a senior this year, what advice or guidance do you hope to give the younger players?
My pieces of advice that I always give to my freshmen are [firstly] to get involved — find something on this campus that you enjoy and that you can get involved in. My other piece of advice is that Cornell is a tough place, you’re going to struggle, but finding people that you can talk to and resources available to find ways to cope is something that’s really important.
- What is your favorite part about being on the volleyball team?
They’re so much fun. Just a very crazy group of girls.
- Do you watch any sports outside of volleyball? Do you have any favorite teams in particular?
I am a big University of Kansas basketball fan. My dad went to KU, so I grew up watching them. Also, a big Royals and Chiefs fan. When the Royals won the World Series about four years ago now, that was huge. And the Chiefs are on this amazing run right now with their new quarterback.
- If you could meet any athlete in person, who would it be and why?
It’s probably a pretty easy answer for a lot of people, but Kerry Walsh is someone that has done amazing things for the sport of volleyball. She represents herself and the community so well that I think she’s just someone that would be amazing to meet.
- What is the best class you’ve taken at Cornell so far and why?
My favorite class was honeybees. Somehow it counts as a science requirement, but it was the third class I had taken with that professor and I had taken bugs before it, and it was just interesting to learn about something completely random in college. Like that honeybee populations are declining — just a little fun fact that’s actually important to the environment.
- What is your go-to place to eat on campus and what do you usually order?
I’ll go with Trill breakfast. We have morning practices and we always shower and get ready as fast as we can and run off to Trill. So I get a breakfast burrito with egg, bacon, sausage and tater tots.
- What do you usually do to de-stress or relax?
I watch a lot of Netflix. I also live with all the [volleyball] girls in my class, and we play a lot of board games and die games. That’s something that I really enjoy.
- What are you going to miss the most about Cornell once you graduate?
All of the amazing people I’ve met. Through my own team, through other teams, people in my major and just random leaders on campus that I’ve gotten to know. It’s an amazing community here.