It has been a long road to success for Columbian native and star volleyball player Marcela Gamarra. Now, in her senior season, she has a chance to lead the ‘Canes pursuit of a Big East championship.
“My expectations are to lead the team and to get into the playoffs, and hopefully win the Big East this year,” said Gamarra, a six-foot senior who played two years of volleyball at Miami-Dade Community College, before transferring to UM last season.
At Miami-Dade, Gamarra earned All-Southern conference honors in both 1999 and 2000. Last season, Gamarra led the Hurricanes in almost every offensive category, and amassed personal career highs in kills (375) and digs (205). She also joined the 30-kill club last September in a match against Jacksonville.
This year, the expectations for her are even higher, and she knows that it is her job to lead this team.
“My position here is to lead this team with my experience and athletic ability. That is what I am doing right now, helping my team win, by getting kills, or making plays, and I hope we can keep winning,” said Gamarra.
Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch understands that this team’s success will hinge highly on what her senior can do this season. However, with Gamarra, the team’s leadership role is in very good hands.
“Marcela is our only senior, so we look to her for leadership, not only on the court, but off the court as a person too. She is definitely our go to player, when we are struggling, we look to her to give us a lift,” said Lantagne Welch.
Gamarra began playing volleyball when she was 11 years old on her national team in Columbia. It is this experience that helps her have confidence on the court, and makes her teammates look up to her.
“Marcela is a great leader. She always steps it up on the court and she is very positive, she is always striving to do better. She sets the standard for the team. She’s a great all-around player. Personally, I want to play like her,” said teammate and friend Christina Hernandez.
However, it was not easy for Gamarra to leave Columbia because it meant leaving her family behind. She had to come to the United States all alone, leaving many loved family and friends back in Columbia. These facts motivate her to work harder everyday.
“What motivates me is that I am leaving so many things in Columbia, so that whatever I do here, I have to do the best that I can, in my studies and in volleyball. This is the time I’m not using to be with them, so I want to make the most of it.”
Gamarra is also a great student, and as architecture major, she works hard to balance her studies and her school. Along with being talented on the court and in the classroom, she is a great friend to her teammates.
“She’s the sweetest and smartest person I know. I’ve had a hard time because of my surgery, and then I had another one, and she’s been there for me this whole time, and now that I’m coming back, she’s helping to push my recovery along,” said Hernandez.
The one common theme about Marcela Gamarra from everyone who knows her is that she is a great volleyball player, and a great person.
“Marcela is a great person, you watch her on the court and she looks so mean because she’s such a great volleyball player, but she’s an incredible person and that is what makes her so special,” said Lantagne Welch.
You can reach Darren Grossman at DRG215@aol.com.