By (Terrin Waack)

She may only be sophomore, but Emily Stebbins is like a big sister to each member of the Alabama volleyball team. She genuinely cares for everybody and looks out for them.

“There’s nothing bad I can say about her,” freshman Quincey Gary said. “She just makes everybody around her happy. She just makes everyone around a better person. Every time I look at her, I smile.”

Coach Ed Allen said she’s a nurturing teammate. She’ll go out of her way to ask him how he’s doing on any given day and he said that doesn’t happen often between coaches and athletes.

“That’s what’s unique about her personality as well is she has the ability to bring people together because of who she is,” he said.

Stebbins started volleyball in the third grade and her love for the sport hasn’t waivered. She did a little bit of everything before volleyball, however. She did figure skating, dance, soccer, track and anything else that was offered to her.

Once she started volleyball, the search for her passion was over.

After graduating from Carmel High School in Carmel, Indiana, Stebbins look at a lot of colleges in the east and only one southern school, Alabama. Once she found Alabama, her search was over.

“I like the South,” she said. “Everybody talked about the really cliché, ‘If feel likes home,’ but honestly, it did. It was definitely that feeling I was searching for.”

Having been from the Midwest, it was a transition for her coming to the South. She said there’s always talk about how hard it is to manage being a collegiate athlete and a student, but she hasn’t found it difficult. This year is harder with classes, but nothing bogs her down. Gary said Stebbins is always just a happy, funny person. She can count on her outside of volleyball and Foster Auditorium, including online.

“Always on Facebook or Twitter, she posts these funny videos so I can always count on her for a funny laugh or something during the day,” Gary said.

When on the court, Stebbins brings a new energy to the team.

Gary said whenever Stebbins gets a kill, the whole team gets excited for her.

“I just like to bring life to the court,” Stebbins said.

During matches in high school she said she was a lot calmer on the court. It’s different now with her team rallying behind her. It’s empowering.

“Part of me was like I don’t want to be cocky and cheer on my point,” she said. “But now, it’s like, ‘I just got a kill! What’s up? Let’s go!’”

She doesn’t over celebrate though.

Allen said she even-keeled and she doesn’t get too high or too low which helps her be successful in emergency or stressful situations.

“She’s a kid that the enormity of a situation is never too much and it’s never too little either,” he said.

Stebbins appreciates and takes advantage of every moment she is allowed on the court with her team.

Having only played in three matches last season, totaling three kills, Stebbins has already surpassed that with 26 kills within four matches. It’s all about working hard.

“You know one day it’s going to pay off,” she said. “You have to keep that mindset. If you’re going to quit, you’re not going to do anything with your life. You got to keep moving forward and have that hope and pray that you’re going to be there one day.”

This same mentality also transfers into her schoolwork. Although it may be 2 a.m. at times and she’d rather go to bed than be doing homework, she pushes through and keeps studying. She knows what she wants, whether it be a 4.0 GPA or more play time in matches, and she will work hard until she gets it.

Her goal: Academic All-American.

“It pays off in the end if you work a little bit extra to make it count,” she said.

Stebbins is a very coachable kid. Allen said she comes in each and every day, practices her hardest and keeps a positive attitude the entire time.

“She’s a kid that gives back to you as a coach because she does the things you want as a teammate, as a player,” he said.

Stebbins not one to complain or get upset about the fact that she doesn’t play as much as others. Instead, when she is presented with the opportunity, he said she’s taken those moments and shined.

“Most of us wait for our opportunities and then we try to get ready, right?” Allen said. “She’s a kid that gets ready every day with the expectation of being ready when her opportunity presents itself.”

Gary said she admires Stebbins in how she came back even stronger this year and never gives up. She admires Stebbin’s work ethic and as an underclassman, Gary looks up to Stebbins.

“She works hard for everything that she gets,” Gary said. “I think that’s just awesome about her.”

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports