Before finding her place on the volleyball court at age 11, sophomore Ella Green tried out several different sports while growing up in San Francisco.
“Well, I was always really tall, so initially I was a swimmer because my dad was a swimmer, and both of my siblings were swimmers,” Green said.
Green also had some earlier experience playing basketball in middle school, but even then, her mind was still focused on a potential career in volleyball after watching school volleyball games and watching the girls who played college volleyball on TV.
“I always thought that the girls who were playing college volleyball on TV were the coolest thing I'd ever seen. I just wanted to be like them, basically.”
Always being the tall one out, Green found people just like herself in her first time trying the sport at a volleyball clinic.
“I wanted to do something where being tall was an asset, and my dad was like, ‘Why don't you try volleyball?’" Green said. "I remember him telling me, ‘Wow! This is the first time I've ever seen you with a bunch of girls who look like you.’ It was the first time I've been surrounded by a bunch of girls who were my height, and I was like, ‘Oh, this is awesome.’ I love it, even though I was horrible when I first started.”
As Green got more comfortable with the sport, she decided to focus her attention on a person or group of people who she could model her volleyball skills around. Her unlikely source of inspiration became Penn State.
“Ten years ago, they had a period where they were winning national championships every year, and they just had these super fierce girls who would go out on the court and absolutely tear it up,” Green said. “So I think watching them was like that was like the group of girls that I just like completely idolized."
Throughout her year and a half on the Penn women’s volleyball team so far, Green has experienced many triumphs on the court while contributing to many team victories. However, there was a time when she wanted to quit before she could make these triumphs, which came during her high school volleyball season.
“I've always been the person who was the first to show up at practice,” Green said. “I love volleyball. I love the sport. Everything about it is just amazing to me. But then, my 18th year, I had a really terrible club coach. But now in college, I don't think I would ever want to quit.”
In its most recent game against Cornell, Penn volleyball's victory was aided massively by the efforts of Green, as she led the Quakers with 14 kills, just two away from her career best. This became her second straight night with over ten kills.
For Green, the most important piece of advice she would give to rising volleyball players would be to become immersed in a love for the sport to meet the best of your own potential. Speaking from her own experience, Green learned to improve her skills by dedicating countless hours in perfecting her craft. As her love for volleyball grew, so did her skills.
“I would say that hard work reads talent almost every single time as someone who started off,” Green said. “If you're doing something because you love it, and you actually enjoy it, you're just naturally going to get better at it if you're willing to put in the work. Even when it's frustrating, even when it's stressful, just try to stick with it and try to find role models and older people as well that you can talk to.”