Senior volleyball star leads team through postponement

Walling+striking+the+ball+vs+LSU.+

OU Athletics

Walling striking the ball vs LSU.

Michael Pearce, Editor-in-Chief

In her fourth and final season at Oakland University, Jamie Walling is facing the challenges of a postponed season and becoming a senior leader, all at once.

The 2018 All-League first team and 2019 All-League honorable mention middle hitter has led Oakland in kills and hitting percentage during her tenure as a Golden Grizzly.

Now, as a senior, she is forced to adapt to the postponement of her fall season.

“In my position so far, being a senior, it’s been hard to have it taken from me,” Walling said. “A normal season, the normalcy of everything and team bonding has kind of been taken from us.”

After the spring, Walling felt like the team was hitting its stride and meshing well. She felt the team was at peak physical shape and was close-knit. Now, with the season pushed to this spring, the team will have to carry that momentum farther.

The team still is unsure of what practices will look like and when they might be.

“We’re all kind of waiting around and trying to figure out what we’re doing,” Walling said. “It’s kind of a puzzle right now, and I think that’s part of the fun. It’s part of the anticipation and getting back into the groove of everything.”

As a leader on the court, Walling has always had a leadership role. Now her leadership responsibilities stretch farther than when she was a junior or younger.

“It definitely takes some getting used to,” she said. “Knowing that I was an underclassman, I tried to fill a leadership role under the seniors we had on the team. Now, I get to be the trend setter for the team, and I get to be more of a role model. My actions reflect on everyone else.”

Walling is not the only senior on the team. She has Lindsay Wightman and Kenzie Dunn on the squad with her. One of Walling’s on-court goals is to have a “special” year with the two of them.

“I want a Horizon League Championship, and I want to go to the NCAA tournament with my girls,” she said. “I don’t care about my stats as much as I care about winning with my team and doing something really special for me, Lindsay’s and Kenzie’s last year.”

The three seniors have played together all four years, but with the season postponement, Dunn will not be playing in the spring. She is set to graduate in December.

“We’ve been playing together for four years now, and I really wouldn’t want to play my last season without them,” Walling said. “Kenzie won’t be there this spring, so it’ll be hard to play without her because she’s always been there. Lindsay and I have been each other’s backbones at times, and I’m looking forward to spending my last year with her.”

After volleyball, Walling hopes to find a steady job and “go into the adult world.” This summer she interned as a bank examiner at the Federal Reserve Bank. Currently, she is looking into the field of financial planning.

Before graduating, though, Walling has a season to focus on. That season, she thinks, will be an improvement on the previous one, where the Golden Grizzlies finished sixth in the Horizon League.

“I think we can pick right back where we left off and be even better than last year,” Walling said.