MORAGA, Calif. — The Saint Mary's volleyball program bid farewell to Alexis Salmons last weekend on Commencement Saturday, but despite graduating and leaving with a season of eligibility left, Salmons left an indelible mark on the team and its members.
“One of the things I admire most about Alexis is that she was not just a great volleyball player, she was also an outstanding student,” said Saint Mary's volleyball head coach Rob Browning. “Not once in her career at Saint Mary's did we ever worry about her performance in the classroom. She took care of her studies, her physical conditioning, and her game, just like a professional.”
True to Browning's words, Salmons earned four West Coast Conference All-Academic honors between indoor and beach volleyball while also being named to the 2014 WCC Indoor All-Freshmen team and earning All-WCC Honorable Mention last fall.
LEARNING TO LEADSalmons said she learned how to be a leader at Saint Mary's, both from the academic and athletic sides. As one of the lone upperclassmen the last two seasons, Salmons was thrust into the role, whether se was ready for it or not.
“I think one of my biggest things, especially my junior year, I just sort of stepped into a leadership role and I wasn't awesome at communicating it so I tried to lead by example,” said Salmons. “Make sure we were always doing the little things no matter what our record was or what was going on at practice or at school, everything when we came into the gym was about volleyball and getting better with our teammates.”
“When Lex was on fire she could take over a match,” added Browning. “There are numerous times I can remember when she was in her zone, shredding the other team with her hitting and putting up a wall at the net defensively. Her fire could ignite the entire team.”
Observers can't overlook how dominant a player Salmons was in her time at Saint Mary's. She finished her three-year indoor career with 569 kills, 257 total blocks and 143 digs. She was among SMC's top-three in both kills and blocks during all three of her seasons, including last season when injury limited her to just 19 matches.
"When Lex was on fire she could take over a match...Her fire could ignite the entire team." - Head Coach Rob Browning
“Alexis was one of the very best attackers and blockers Saint Mary's has ever had,” said Browning. “Watching Alexis play was special because she was just so smooth in everything she did. She looked like it all came naturally to her, though we all know how much work she put into becoming the player she was.
“It's worth noting that much of Alexis' career she played with a chronically sore shoulder and right thumb, both limiting her ability to practice regularly or play 100 percent. In spite of this she was always one of the dominant net players in the WCC the past 3 seasons.”
THE SMC EXPERIENCE
“Family” is the word used most to describe the Saint Mary's volleyball program and the culture that Browning and his staff has established. It is the same for Salmons, who was attending school and playing volleyball 450 miles away from her San Diego roots.
“Saint Mary's is a family, the community is a family, the volleyball team is the tight-knight family that you always wanted,” said Salmons. “Being here, being away from San Diego, I didn't have to search too hard to find my best friends, my sisters. And then having Rob at the helm of that family was really great and welcoming.
“The experience itself was amazing. I probably couldn't ask for a better team in my whole four years here. Learning from the best when I was a freshman and getting to see them play – people like Jordan Shaw, Kristina Graven, Sarah Reams, Sam(antha) Tinsley – they all kind of helped me understand what Saint Mary's volleyball was all about. I learned so much from the team and the program.”
"Seminar helped me tremendously...It made me the person I am today, no doubt about it." - Alexis Salmons
But Salmons would also say that without her Seminar classes, which teach values through student discussion and readings, she would not have made the leaps and bounds in personal growth that she did while at Saint Mary's.
“As much as people dislike Seminar sometimes, Seminar helped me tremendously,” said Salmons. “I can't remember a time my freshman year I actually spoke in class or even on the team. Being in Seminar, forcing myself to speak, it kind of forced me to become more of a leader and be able to step into that leadership role that I did in volleyball. It made me the person I am today, no doubt about it.”
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
Salmons' future goals include working with video and possibly going to film school. She will work in digital marketing for a real estate firm in the Bay Area this summer, doing videos and photos, updating blogs and social media sites. But after that, the pursuit is film.
“It's turned into less of a hobby and more of like a passion,” said Salmons about her pursuit of working with video and film.
Salmons has already accomplished one dream, earning a scholarship and playing NCAA Division I volleyball while allowing her competitive drive to run amok.
“It was a dream of mine since I was 13,” said Salmons. “I wanted to push myself and get a scholarship and be here, be at the D-I level. Because not only was volleyball a dream, but being competitive is something I love to do.
“Thanks to everybody who has impacted my time here. Not just the volleyball program but the media guys, the announcers, the school, the crowd that always come out to the game, the teachers, and my teammates and best friends.”
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