If talent were a person, then Ciara Michel would be it.
Gazing into the eyes of her opponent, Michel prepares to deliver the other team their fate. As she hunches over in a stance of both eagerness and pure athletic poise, the crowd can feel a restless level of anticipation as Michel jumps up and sends the ball soaring over the net with such speed that her kill is unrecoverable. This is the game at its best, but for Michel it’s just another day.
Michel didn’t start out trying to be an elite volleyball player; it just fell into her hands.
As the glaring sun pounded on her face everyday, Michel impatiently waited for her parents to pick her up from middle school. Before long she grew tired of waiting and decided playing sports was a better alternative to waiting. At first Michel followed the path of being a cheerleader, but when she lost interest in cheering she picked up volleyball-and the rest is history.
Standing at 6 feet 5 inches tall, Michel holds the University of Miami record of 168 blocks and was selected to the 2007 preseason All-ACC Team.
She prides herself on the ability to motivate her teammates in the toughest situations. As team captain, she is audible on the court as she fosters team unity through encouragement.
“We have a really close bond. We are all really good friends. We have a lot of fun in everything we do,” Michel said. “That is what keeps me motivated to do well.”
Michel’s athletic abilities are more than just a combination of height and natural skill; she thrives on doing the impossible. One such instance that Michel recalls was last year against state rivals Florida State.
“We were down two games [to FSU]. We were just having a really awful game. We went into halftime break and we completely changed,” Michel said. “When we went out there, we ended up winning the match. Everyone was expecting us to lose, and it was a TV game so it was high intensity.”
But there’s another side to Michel other than the fierce player who dominates her opponents. Her interactions with her surroundings reveal that she is far from serious all the time.
Michel’s bright smile and her heartwarming attitude reveal a thoughtful, caring personality. Contrary to her intimidating physique, many people have come to know Michel for her charismatic personality.
“What [most people who meet me will] probably remember me for is being super tall,” Michel joked. “Hopefully [they’ll remember] my personality. You can do as much as you can on the court and try to get good things for your team, but I think what people will ultimately remember you for are the interactions that you have and friendships you make.”
In her final year, Michel wants to continue having fun and aspires to help her team reach the NCAA tournament.
“I really just want to do the best I can for my team because I know we can do really well this year,” Michel said. “So I try to put it in perspective one day at a time. Every day leads up to a bigger goal.”
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.