Thursday, April 26, 2018
Education

For teen, playing volleyball in college has been a winding journey

Just last semester Brielle Knight was a Trinity College of Florida sophomore.

And she's only 18.

Brielle was 16 when she graduated from Hernando Christian Academy, where she was a volleyball star.

"School was easy for me, so I figured, if I could do it, why not? I just wanted to get out of high school and start college," she said. She enrolled at St. Leo University.

She was also driven when things got tough, like when her mother became very, very ill. Brielle had originally hoped to attend the University of South Florida, but that plan changed when, in April of her senior year in high school, her mother, Stephanie Knight, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Brielle wanted to be close to home.

"It was hard at first," she said, "but my Mom was more at peace with it than I was. That gave me comfort."

Brielle said she gained her strength from her mother, a strong Christian, during her mother's ordeal.

Although she wanted to, Brielle didn't play volleyball at St. Leo. At 16, the coach said, she was too young for it at the college level. Instead she played with an unaffiliated club, Citrus Heat.

While playing with the Heat, a Trinity College coach saw her.

"He contacted me about seeing if I was interested in playing college volleyball and I signed up three weeks later," she said. "It was pretty much my childhood dream to play college volleyball."

When she attended St. Leo's, Brielle commuted from home. She was on campus at Trinity, in New Port Richey, but was only about a half hour away.

Now, her mother is much improved, and is finished with her surgeries and chemotherapy.

"She's great," Brielle said. "She's cured. All her cancer was removed."

Brielle will be attending Pasco-Hernando Community College this semester to finish her associate's degree, remaining close to her mother. She intends to study chiropractic medicine and hopes to get more of the basic science classes she needs at PHCC. Brielle is still considering whether to play volleyball while attending PHCC.

After that, with her mother doing well, Brielle will head off to a university and then chiropractic school. Perhaps swatting a few more volleyballs along the way.

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