Nothing beats being at home

Emily Young

There was a huge turnout of family and friends for Emily Young when she and her USC teammates played at Northern Illinois.

I learned a trick from my writing professor this summer: When you don’t know how to start a letter, start with “thank you.” Similarly, that’s how I feel this blog needs to start.

Thank you to all my friends and family for coming to our tournaments at Purdue and Marquette, and especially for coming out to our match at Northern Illinois. It was a special occasion for me to play so close to home in Schaumburg, Ill.

It was so nice to be showered with love, stories, posters and homemade goodies. I wish I had more time to spend with everyone at home, but even an eternity would not be long enough. It brings happy tears to my eyes knowing that I have so many people invested in my success. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and my entire village came to our match at Northern Illinois!

Courtesy of Emily Young

Emily Young was excited to share her family with her USC volleyball family.

Many college athletes can identify with attending universities far away from home. This year, our team has three international players and five more from out of state. In so many ways, your team becomes your family. My team has become who I spend the most time with and eat my meals with, and I would genuinely do anything for them.

These past two weekends, not only did I get to see my friends and family, I was also able to share them with my USC volleyball family.

Some of the memories we shared:

When we got off the plane at Chicago O’Hare International Airport to drive to West Lafayette, Ind., our team experienced a true Chicago welcome. My mom met the team at baggage claim with Portillo’s beef sandwiches, a classic Chicago staple. (I have been informed there is a Portillo’s in Buena Park, Calif., as well, so if you haven’t been, it’s a must-do!)

After the Mortar Board Premier tournament at Purdue, my hometown friends handed out homemade spirit bags to the entire team to enjoy on the plane.

When we arrived in Milwaukee for the Marquette Challenge, a friend greeted me with a Green Bay Packers T-shirt. As a Chicago Bears fan, I am still considering burning it. Thank goodness he didn’t get me one of those cheesehead hats. It’s the thought that counts, right?

When we left Northern Illinois, my mom organized a to-go potluck -- my family friends made homemade fruit cups, pasta salad, cookies, brownies, popsicles, sandwiches and drinks for us to take to the airport after our match. I am slightly afraid that after our matches near home, my mom has become more popular with my team than I have, but it’s important that she loves and takes care of my 14 volleyball sisters, too.

Through sharing my friends and family with my team, I had the opportunity to share a part of myself that I hadn’t been able to show. On these two trips, I’ve been filled with so much pride. Yeah, there’s that feeling when you get a straight-down block or a great kill, but it’s unmatched compared to what I’ve felt these past two weekends.

I have never seen my parents as happy and proud of my volleyball accomplishments as they were at our two tournaments. Surrounded by friends and family, I feel like their love just radiated from them. When you have that and a straight-down block, I guess that feeling is called “being at home.”