Dream Big: She Won't Back Down
Dec. 3, 2004
Being a full-time student, playing a sport at the college level and just dealing with the stress of everyday life are usually more than enough challenges for your typical student-athlete to deal with. But, in the case of Purdue volleyball player Daren Poe, that's nothing.
The senior has had to overcome injuries, coaching changes and positions switches to get to where she is today, and she'll be the first to admit that those weren't easy things to do. After helping lead Northern Illinois to a Mid-American Conference title in 2001, Poe decided to transfer to West Lafayette.
"I was not happy at Northern (Illinois) because it was too far away from home," Poe said. "I did not feel as though the fit was completely right for me. Purdue was where I initially wanted to go and when I found out that it was a possibility I jumped at the chance."
In addition to venturing to a new school, Poe had to contend with a herniated disk in her back that would prove troublesome. Upon her arrival at Purdue, the long-time outside hitter made the transition to the libero position because of the ailment. At libero, Poe would not be a hitter and would be able to play through her injury. But, taking on a new position was another challenge she would have to overcome.
"It's a different type of position," explained the senior. "I feel as though you need to be a little more disciplined at it. As the libero, I feel I need to be a little more accountable because it is the first ball that I am touching every time. Every offense starts with the first ball and I think that is what makes my position different because I know that my team is counting on me so that everyone else can do their job."
Four years ago, Poe might have been out of luck because the libero position was only instituted in NCAA play prior to the 2001 season. The position requires Poe to take on my any responsibilities that she had never experienced in her volleyball career, but she was able to be successful with the help of her teammates.
"The most physically painful thing about playing libero would have to be sprawling out on the court countless times a day to make a diving stop," added Poe. "My teammates helped me out a lot and have always been there to encourage me. The coaches have also helped by just pushing me to be a step better everyday and since making the transition my back has felt so much better"
Change continued to be a theme in Poe's career. After playing for Jeff Hulsmeyer in her first year at Purdue and compiling a 12-21 record, Dave Schondell was brought in for the 2003 campaign. The Boilermakers finished that season at 14-17 and Poe was named to the Academic All-Big Ten and Academic All-Mideast Region squads. This season, Poe has help lead the Boilermakers to a 16-14 record, a berth in the NCAA Tournament and a first round win over Colorado State - setting up a fitting end to a successful college career..
"It's been one of the hardest things but one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done in my life," added Poe on her college career. "All of the time commitment and discipline that goes along with being a Division I student athlete really builds character. I have loved my volleyball experience and I would definitely attribute a lot of who I am today to the experience I have had."
Poe is finishing up her bachelor's degree in accounting and plans to go on to grad school upon her graduation. One thing is for sure, whatever life throws at her in the future, she knows she won't back down and will succeed.