For some athletes, learning a sport takes patience, practice and persistence. For others, it comes as second nature. Charlotte 49ers volleyball middle hitter and senior Amanda Videmsek had no trouble picking up the sport growing up.
“When I was young, it came pretty naturally,” said Videmsek.
It was deciding which sport to pursue more competitively that ultimately became difficult.
“My parents just kind of pushed me to try everything and see what I really liked to do,” said Videmsek.
“I played basketball, I played softball, volleyball and I think I tried soccer when I was really young. I used to be a dancer, and my dad always told me that I would get the rebound because I was taller than everyone in fourth grade. He said I’d throw it to someone and dance to the other side of the court.”
After years of dancing tap, jazz, ballet and hip-hop, and balancing volleyball, Videmsek was forced to make a decision.
“When I got to high school, I had to decide between dance and volleyball,” said Videmsek.
“I think I chose volleyball because I was tall, too tall for dance. I was getting too tall to be partnered with anyone, and I saw an opportunity to go to college and play.”
Videmsek attended a small, all-girl college preparatory high school in Ohio. Due to the smaller program, many of the colleges pursuing the middle hitter were just down the street.
“It started off locally,” said Videmsek.
“Cleveland State, Toledo, a lot of local schools. When I went to nationals and got my name out there on a more national level, schools like UNC Charlotte, UMBC, Baltimore, Florida Gulf Coast, a lot of smaller schools. Charlotte was the biggest opportunity I had.”
Ultimately, Videmsek came down to deciding between UNC Charlotte and Florida Gulf Coast. After spending so much time in Ohio, the Beaumont School volleyball star wanted to get out of the state to do some exploring. Warmer weather didn’t hurt either.
“I realized I wanted to get out of the state, I just wanted to go away for a little bit,” said Videmsek.
“I love my family and everything, I just needed to go out and be independent for a little bit. I wanted to go somewhere warm. I love the summer, so Florida and Charlotte really stood out to me for that.”
Videmsek was one of 125 in her graduating class and the only volleyball player in her graduating class to go play at the collegiate level.
“No one else on my team was going to play volleyball anywhere,” said Videmsek.
“It was a huge burden lifted off of my shoulders knowing I was going to college, knew where I was going.”
Making a big move away from all things known to a new city can be scary for many. For Videmsek, she says it was one of the best decisions she’s ever made.
“I’m playing college volleyball in Division I. Not many athletes get that opportunity,” said a humble Videmsek.
“I love waking up every morning and working hard to reach a goal. I think that’s how I am with everything from athletics and my education.”
Not long after moving from Ohio to North Carolina, the 6’0” volleyball student met Justin Seager, former Charlotte 49ers baseball player and 12th round pick by the Seattle Mariners in the 2013 Major League Amateur Draft. They’ve been together ever since.
“It’s been three years,” said Videmsek with a smile a mile wide.
“He’s obviously been one of my biggest supporters here since I met him freshman year.”
Seager spent the summer playing and traveling with the Everett AquaSox, a minor league affiliate of Seattle. It was the longest Videmsek had ever spent away from Seager, but says it was an opportunity to learn more about herself.
“It was hard at first getting used to him not being around,” said Videmsek.
“It’s given me a chance to do more me. I’ve been with him this whole time at college, so I’ve never not been with him. It’s kind of fun to have more girl nights and focus on me right now.”
Though Videmsek has spent more time bonding with the girls and learning what it’s like to be alone, not seeing Seager in the stands doesn’t get easier.
“Not having him in the stands is weird, not being able to look up in the stands and see him, but it’ll be really exciting when he gets to come back,” said Videmsek.
“Having my parents here will help. His parents come to my games a lot, so it helps to have them there. It’ll be hard seeing the empty seat next to them, though.”
The empty seat won’t stay empty long as Seager will be back in Charlotte in a few weeks.
Seager present or not, Videmsek knows that her last year playing college volleyball is an important one. The 49ers have not been to the conference tournament since her freshman year.
“I want them to remember me for our team’s success. The past couple of years, we haven’t had a lot of team success, like post-regular season,” said Videmsek.
“If we can make it to the conference tournament this year, I think that’ll be a great thing for the team to remember me as – as the captain that helped make it to the conference tournament.”
The excited and passionate 49ers captain knows it takes a team effort to make anything happen. It’s still early in the volleyball season, but conference play will heat up quickly and only time will tell if Charlotte will see a match in the post-season.
“My freshman year was the only year we made it to the conference tournament, and that was an amazing experience,” said Videmsek.
“It’s not an individual thing; it’s a team thing. I want them to remember me for our team’s success.”
Perhaps success is making it into the conference tournament, but Videmsek has already succeeded in making her almost four years of college volleyball worth it.
“The girls I play with make everything worth it.”