At the end of October I got to go on a volleyball recruiting trip with this girl to NYC.
It was a little bit crazy actually.
Because it was one of those chances that you see and you realize you must take despite all the nutty stuff surrounding it.
It is not easy for any kid, in my opinion, (or adult for that matter!) to figure out big, huge life steps, and whether to play college volleyball or not is one of those big decisions. Do you base your decision on volleyball, or location, or academics, or social aspects, or to get yourself out of a bubble, or to get yourself into one? Oh, and the myriads of different needs and wants and personalities and everyone is going to have a different take on life, and want to take different things from life.
In order to make those decisions, sometimes it’s a pretty big job to gather all the information.
This girl and I had sat in front of our computers for so many hours…
She had done a lot of research and thinking by herself. She reached out (and had been reached out to) by various coaches in the NYC area, and two were strong enough desires and possibilities that we realized (with help from her volleyball recruiting coach from her club team), that really, it was Halloween weekend or bust. Ha, not really, but both schools happened to have their last home season games, one on Friday and the other on Saturday, Ana (my neice) as well as my brother and his family would be in town, it was the last weekend before all the Thanksgiving craziness begins and the club season politics heave in. (Club tryouts are on Nov. 20th and she needs to do some serious pondering to figure out if she really wants to take the leap, full-throttle into club which leads to college play.)
So we planned out the couple days we’d have in NYC to a “T,” packed our bags, and headed out on a red-eye, NYC and adventure-bound. This is how the morning was greeting New York looked when we landed:
And this is how it looked after we had arrived at my brother’s apartment, and had my other brother (who just moved to NY last week) set us on our way to meet up with the Columbia women’s volleyball coaching staff by 9:30am:
Oh yeah, excitement in the air!
They were just finishing up practice so we got to sit on the sidelines and talk to the assistant coach.
As we were talking, this darling freshman player came over and started to talk to Claire, making her feel so welcome, and then the girls called her over to their post-practice-stretching circle and were so kind and inclusive to her.
The coach was filled up with light and goodness and all three of the coaching staff stayed and talked to us, took us up to their office and gave Claire some great advice.
It was such a great experience.
Here they are out by the Columbia lion before the assistant coach walked us out to where we got to reunite with my niece Ana who is a swimmer at Columbia:
And here’s the reunion with sweet Ana:
Ana my brother’s daughter from Hawaii and she is the one who did the video “Wagon” that I wrote about back HERE…some pretty phenomenal work right there if you want to check it out, I would highly recommend.
She is an incredible swimmer and student, and is having a good adventure going to this school. She gave us a more extensive tour of campus. I loved following these two girls around, their heads bent in together, talk, talk, talking about college life in the slanting Fall sunshine, the iconic buildings of Columbia as a backdrop.
Claire and I explored for a little more after Ana had to leave…
We explored Barnard, the sister school to Columbia that Claire might have a better chance of getting into. It is a beautiful campus as well.
Next we headed to Rutgers, a “Big 10” D1 school that had reached out to Claire (we had to do the reaching to get in to Columbia).
Again, the nicest volleyball coaches who took such great care of us and we became so endeared to!
The assistant coach took us on a tour of that sprawling campus (it is huge!).
We also explored some on our own.
Love that Rutgers has history intertwined with the Netherlands (the location of Claire’s summer adventure a few months ago!):
“Rutgers was chartered in 1766 as Queen’s College, a private institution affiliated with the Dutch Reformed Church. Queen’s College was renamed Rutgers College in 1825 after philanthropist Colonel Henry Rutgers, a Revolutionary War hero and son of colonists from the Netherlands.” (quote from rutgersglobal.com)
Here she is with a statue of William I, a national hero of the Netherlands (left below) and with her mama and some hot chocolate on the right as we were figuring out the bus system:
It was cold and drizzly!
We got to go to the game that evening, a whizbang event with a jumbotron and all the bells and whistles (that campus is so nice!). Here’s the team getting ready for their game:
And here’s the best coaching staff who were so gracious and invited us down on the court and hugged us in.
It was a good night, complete with some extra adventures on the train getting back to NYC after Scott (the assistant coach) took us to the station in the rain, jumping puddles and running to get to the right platform in time:
We had a late-night glistening Times Square stroll, made more magical by the drizzly rain and Claire’s excitement under all those lights.
That was a DAY I tell you!
The next morning we headed out to hit some of our bucketlist sightseeing stuff.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is one of my favorites:
Let’s get a closer look at that beauty:
And now let’s take a look at it from WAY above:
There we go. See it down there?
We were both pretty enamoured by those NYC views.
(M&M store up there, always for Lucy…see our trip to NYC a few years ago (HERE) for her love of that place!)
We explored as much as we could of NYU on a Saturday, just to check it out:
And strolled around Washington Square:
…where there happened to be a dog Halloween parade complete with red carpet:
That place was jam-packed I tell you!
We rode bikes amidst those towering buildings:
…to get to this cool spot (the Oculus Mall…love this architecture):
(talked about that one more in that last posts with Max & Lu in NYC).
We walked around the World Trade Center and the beautiful memorial:
We rode bikes across half of the Brooklyn Bridge…
(another favorite of mine, but we discovered walking is way better than bikes in my opinion),
And THEN we had to head back up to Columbia to catch their Ivy League game against Yale.
LOOK who we happened to run into when we got off the subay:
Yep, my brother and a couple of his kids.
I mean, it was their subway stop, yes, but out of ALL those people who live in that city???
Pretty incredible in my opinion!
We gave them quick hugs and headed to the Columbia game:
(Fun to see our “new friends” in action, and to think and ponder about that school.)
Took Ana out to dinner and to check out her dorm:
Then we all met at Noah and Kristi’s. We had picked up Levain cookies (because you kind of have to do that in NYC), but Noah whipped us up some even better copycat ones (we are Eyres, and therefore have to make cookies when together, I think it’s an unwritten rule…he made my favorite recipe and substituted almond flour instead of cake flour…so so good!)
These guys just moved to NYC with their six kids and they are loving it so much (they lived here for years a while back…before the six kid deal:)
Noah made us pancakes before we headed out to church the next morning (exploring the student ward which met before theirs):
And the two of us took the walk down to Lincoln Center where the LDS temple is. I adore this place:
Church is in that same building which is kind of cool.
We went and walked with Ana and all the other LDS students at Columbia who were there that day (five…not many!)…
…and walked past all kinds of NYC beauty to get to her student ward in Harlem.
I love going to church in different places. It’s so much the same as far as the structure goes, but filled up with so many different people coming from so many different backgrounds. I especially loved talking to two of the students as we lugged our suitcases through all those NYC streets, who grew up in tiny towns but always somehow had stars in their eyes about getting to Columbia.
After church, Claire and I rushed to get to the airport to get home in time for the tail end of Halloween, walked up to the gate only to get a notification on my phone that our flight was CANCELLED.
That was a fiasco I have to say, and I felt so sorry for those poor American Airlines employees trying to get all the disgruntled passengers situated on new flights. There was a literal SEA of people trying to get out.
But we made it (more drama than there is time to share today), and despite that hiccup at the end, my heart was filled up with so much gratitude.
It was just SO GOOD for Claire (and me too!) to get educated and to see options, to have a chance to really talk through college and what it would mean to be a college athlete. We learned even more that we bargained for and every ounce of me was so grateful for all those “nudges” that got us to take that leap to see if those “effectual doors” were the right ones for Claire.
She is now armed with knowledge and has so much to build a decision from. Still SO much more to learn. She is heading to a school in California this week to check it out as well.
We will see what happens!
Other trips to NYC:
We sure love that city!!