The Brown and White spoke with women’s volleyball seniors Ava Hudson, Victoria Jepson and Sarah Carman to share lessons they’ve learned from their four years as Mountain Hawks and their plans following graduation in May. This is an installment in The Brown and White’s senior athlete Q&A series.
Question: What was your favorite moment on the court?
Ava Hudson: One of my favorite moments was getting the game-winning kill against Army and turning around and seeing the five girls on the court with me and everyone on the bench so excited and cheering. That feeling was definitely one of my favorite moments on the court.
Victoria Jepson: My sophomore year, we went to the Ohio State Tournament (Sports Imports Classic), and I got to play against them and my family was there. That was a lot of fun to experience.
Sarah Carman: Getting my career-high in assists my sophomore year. I think it was 54, and no one had done that in two years, so that was a pretty cool accomplishment.
Q: What have been the biggest obstacles throughout your career? How did you overcome them?
AH: Honestly, learning how to advocate for myself. I think I grew a lot in my confidence and my leadership abilities from the past couple of years. So, I think learning how to advocate for myself and for my teammates and balancing trying to be a role model and setting an example. Having to balance that out with maybe not having my best day or not feeling like I’m performing that well and still showing up for my teammates has been an obstacle.
VJ: I’d definitely say trying to balance school and volleyball because I’m in the engineering school and there have been some pretty difficult times. Traveling as much as we do, it’s pretty hard to manage when you don’t have that much time to do your homework on the weekends. I learned to work ahead, get as much done as possible and pull a couple of all-nighters; you learn to work really hard for what you want.
SC: This year has been my biggest obstacle. I came into this season injured and had to kind of re-route my path. So, giving back to the team any way that I can, even though that’s not playing, and being on the court and giving feedback and using my brain.
Q: What was your greatest accomplishment during your career?
AH: Being named the team captain was a really awesome honor that I got to be a part of, although I decided to opt-out of that this year just because I think I lead better in other positions. I think that was definitely a really cool thing to be a part of. It really helped me grow in my confidence and communication with everyone on the team. That’s definitely up there pretty high, but I honestly think it’s the little moments for me that bring me the most joy. It is kind of hard to pick out one situation or one thing that was really awesome for me, because I think through the years that have passed with teammates, it’s just every little moment that I was laughing with them on the court, cheering during games and getting kills and just celebrating with them that culminates into my whole experience.
VJ: I’ve learned how to work as a teammate and be a leader and how to put in hard work. As I said, I don’t think I’d be nearly as successful and driven as I am now if I hadn’t played Division I volleyball.
SC: I would say again that career-high in assists would be one of my biggest accomplishments, and another one would be just growing as a person and having that team-first mentality.
Q: What life lessons will you take away from your four years as a Lehigh student-athlete?
AH: Time management is definitely going to be the number one skill I’ve learned throughout this time, because we obviously go to a very academically rigorous school. So, I think balancing that with athletics and still trying to make the time to do other little things that I love. It’s showed me that I can definitely get out of my comfort zone, and I think it’s given me so many opportunities to grow as a person and not just athletically or academically, but just trying to be a better person, forming relationships with people and networking and all these other things that I didn’t really expect to be learning during this time here.
VJ: I’d say the most important one is the hard-working aspect. Like I said, you really have to work for what you want, and even sometimes the hard work doesn’t pay off, but that doesn’t mean that you should take a step back
SC: I would definitely say to enjoy the moment and never take anything for granted. I think my class has had something special (in) that we came in when the world was still normal, and we had to experience that shift when (COVID-19) happened. Getting to see everyone every day or getting to play the sport we loved definitely opened our eyes and made us more appreciative of what we had.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
AH: Environmental Engineering is my major, so I am currently looking to get either a part-time job or internship within the energy industry or a sustainable development company while I figure out exactly which graduate program I want to go to. I do plan on getting my master’s, and eventually a Ph.D. hopefully, so I am looking at some pretty rigorous programs to apply to. I am going to take some time to get some more work experience before that and figure out exactly where I want to go and if I want to go to school in Europe or stay in the U.S. I am just really looking forward to broadening my horizons during my time after graduation.
VJ: Right now, I am applying to jobs in the engineering field, but I do plan to go to graduate school in the spring of 2023, and I’ll get my Master’s in Technological Engineering.
SC: I am currently applying to graduate school right now, and I’ll continue on as an accountant. Later down the road, I could probably see myself playing some pickup games. I will still be super competitive, and I’ll need somewhere to put that energy, and maybe coaching when I am older. Right now I’m just hanging up the knee pads.