In this episode of The 9INE POINT Started With A Dream Podcast, Jacolby Gilliam welcomes Leah Edmond, a University of Kentucky volleyball alum. Leah is a pro volleyball player at Athletes United (AU). Today, Leah shares her story of going from a young dreamer to a pro athlete while facing racial stigma when it came to others describing her game and injuries. Despite it all, Leah continues to be a strong force in the world of pro volleyball.
Leah begins by sharing her dream as a young athlete. She talks about wanting to play at the University of Kentucky and going for it. She shares with us the expectations required from her as a freshman and a black athlete. She also discusses the stigma black volleyball players face and why volleyball should be made accessible to different communities. The episode comes to a close with Leah giving valuable advice on how to love what you do but, at the same time, not play through the pain.
Leah's dream as a young athlete
Starting the college hunt
Questions to ask colleges that reach out to you during recruiting
Leah's expectations as a freshman
Embracing your achievements
Dismantling the stigma around black volleyball players
Leah's game as a volleyball player
Making volleyball accessible to black communities
Leah's gameday playlist
The decision to go pro
A tearful process following an injury
Leah's advice to her younger self
Why you should love what you do
"My first goal was to play in college. I grew up around college athletics with my dad being a coach. "
"Recruiting is a two-way street."
"I knew what I could bring to the table. I knew who I was as a player and a person. And if someone wasn't going to be 100% full for me from the beginning, then I didn't want to be there."
"My mentality was if I'm shooting to be one of the best in the conference, or be one of the best in the country, then I have to hold myself to a certain level of playing every time I step on the court, and if I'm holding myself to such a high level, that will help everyone around me."
"With black athletes, it's a very small adjective pool for us, for some reason, no matter what we do."
"I'm very team-oriented."
"I spent almost four or five months literally rebuilding how to swing again. "
"And I took pride in pain through my injuries. And I took pride in playing through pain because it showed how good of a leader I was. And then when this happened, I was like, Wait a second. Why? Why did I take pride in playing through pain? Like why did I take pride in playing through being injured? Why do we take pride in that? "
"Why do we glorify playing through your body being injured? Why do we glorify playing when you're sick?"
"Sometimes it's frowned upon to be selfish."
"No one's more disappointed in me than black people when I tell them I don't play basketball."
"Volleyball to me is not a career. It is something that I love that I happen to get paid to do as well."