From club to GVSU varsity: The Taylor Shomin story
Former club volleyball standout slides into libero role for Laker volleyball
For the longest time it looked like it would never happen. But, right when all seemed lost, her dream finally became a reality.
Sound familiar? It’s the plot to one of those underdog success stories that would make any Hollywood producer anxious to write up a script.
While she might not have filmmakers knocking on her door, Taylor Shomin’s determination to be a part of the Grand Valley State volleyball team can be an inspiration to all. It’s never too late – don’t stop trying to achieve your goals.
When Shomin enrolled at GVSU, she made the decision to join the club volleyball team because it allowed her to keep playing the game she loves competitively.
“I played club volleyball here for three years,” Shomin said. “I always wanted to have a chance to try out for varsity, but just never got the chance.”
Although she couldn’t play for the varsity squad, during those three years Shomin did manage to get as close to the action as possible by volunteering to help record statistics at varsity games with DJ Foster, GVSU's assistant sports information director.
“She has been around the arena a lot and around the team,” Foster said. “I even remember her saying something about she knew how they warmed up. Like she knew some of the drills and stuff they did by just sitting here and watching them before matches.”
Having that familiarity and making those connections does go a long way, but opportunities to make the jump from club to varsity athletics are extremely rare. The most recent notable GVSU player to do it, and have success, was soccer goalkeeper Andrea Strauss. Struass’ shutout against No. 8 Rollins, and stellar playoff run last season, carried the program to its fourth national title in six seasons.
Shomin shows similar characteristics to that of Strauss' - namely determination and work ethic. Club volleyball head coach Anna Tollefson praised her for not only having the competitive drive to improve her skills after each point, but also being able to make her teammates better in the process.
“She has worked so hard every day,” Tollefson said. “She’s been a great player and leader day in and day out. She gave club volleyball her absolute all and I’m so glad that her talents and hard work are getting recognized.”
With Tollefson, other coaches and even alumni vouching for her, Shomin was finally given the chance to make varsity this spring. The graduation of 2014 GLIAC Libero of the Year, Christina Canepa, meant head coach Deanne Scanlon had a considerable hole in her roster that needed to be filled.
Amanda Glaza, a transfer student from Grand Rapids Community College, was brought in with the notion she was going to fill that role. Glaza earned numerous all-tournament team honors with the Raiders and won a pair of regional championships.
Nevertheless, Shomin was given one day to try out and make a lasting impression.
“It was extremely intense and there was a lot of pressure,” she said.
Keeping with the theme of the dark horse character in a blockbuster movie, Shomin seized the moment and is now the starting libero – the team accepting her with open arms.
“We gave her an opportunity,” Scanlon said. “This was her dream. She gave up playing club volleyball, her senior season with them, just for a shot at this. Not even a guaranteed spot.
“The kids have all responded to her really well. Sometimes that’s tough when you come in as a senior and you got one year left and everyone is kind of like ‘Who is this kid?’ But, she has blended in really well.”
Through the first eight games of the season, Shomin has 128 digs and is ranked fifth-best in the GLIAC with 4.57 digs per set. For comparison, Canepa finished her accolade-filled 2014 season by averaging 4.86 digs per set. It’s early, but Shomin isn’t too far off pace.
Performing well is satisfying and helps her keep the starting role, but that’s not what gets Shomin motivated when she steps out onto the court.
“What fires me up? Oh man. I would just say playing for the girl right next to me and playing for the seniors. Not just the seniors, everyone.”
Perhaps her biggest influence and someone Shomin looks up to is her younger sister, Teagan. This spring, Teagan Shomin earned an All-GLIAC Honorable Mention as a freshman playing on the GVSU softball team.
“Honestly, she doesn’t know this, but she drives me,” Shomin said. “Seeing her fulfill her dream and being able to play for Grand Valley gave me a lot more confidence and drive to not only to do this for myself, but for her and make her proud.”
A protagonist can always use a supportive sidekick to help them reach their happy ending. This story, however, isn’t over. There are still plenty of games left to play.
Every match, set and point being another moment she will cherish forever.
“I don’t think anybody understands how awesome this opportunity is that I’m able to come in my senior year and have the chance to fulfill my dream.”