Freshman finds new home on court
Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 30, 2013 16:08
There is pressure on Daniela Leal, despite being a freshman and the lone setter for the Loyola volleyball team.
The setter, majoring in English digital media, is adapting quickly for the 2013 volleyball season, was worried about fitting in, but she can do it easily with the help of her team.
“I’m trying not to put pressure on her and I think the team understands her role. The only pressure that is going to be created is what she puts on herself,” Margot Frederick, head coach, said.
“Before I came here I was thinking, ‘Wow this is going to be a lot of pressure,’ but they’ve done their best to make me feel there really isn’t a lot of pressure,” Leal said.
Leal said coming to Loyola was no easy task for her.
“She had visited campus with the previous coach, and she hadn’t been the one he decided to offer,” Frederick said.
It was a team effort when deciding to add Leal to the team.
“One of the current players had her phone number, and so the girls actually recommended her, and I kind of came in and sealed the deal. She had been very disappointed that everything hadn’t worked out and this was kind of like fate and the stars aligned and we’re happy and she’s happy,” Frederick said.
Leal said her process to get into Loyola was also “quick.”
“My recruitment experience was pretty speedy. I got a call at the end of June and it took about three weeks to reinstate me to the school and make all the official offers,” Leal said.
She said if she did not receive the offer from Frederick, she would have been attending Florida State University.
Leal said she wanted to attend Loyola before she was even offered a position.
“My cousin went here and he always said great things about it and it was always an option for me. Then, when I came to visit I really loved it. It has a strong volleyball program. I just loved the fact that it wasn’t a huge school and it wasn’t a tiny school. It just had a lot to offer,” Leal said.
“I was affected in a positive way if anything because Coach Margot was the one who recruited me and gave me this opportunity.”
She has also had to adjust from playing on a high school level to playing in college.
“Besides adjusting to being in college and playing with a brand new team, really just being able to gel as a team together, (will be a difference.)” she said.
She also recognizes that certain parts of the game are emphasized on the Loyola team.
“It’s a higher level of play. Everything’s faster. Margot is an awesome coach. She definitely pushes us with our speed over anything,” she said.
Frederick said she sees potential in Leal for her entire college career.
“She does some really athletic things,” Frederick said. “She’s a really quick study. She’s very coachable. She can take feedback and immediately make an adjustment. It’s only a matter of time before she’s doing everything that we’re asking her to do.”
Leal said that the past few practices have helped her relax.
“The pressure has gotten lighter. I’ve gotten more used to playing with these girls and connecting with them,” she said.
Frederick described Leal as “a force to reckon with.”
“I think she’s going to be really solid for us over the next four years,” Frederick said.
Raven Richard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org