Komen Leaves Small-town Behind to Pursue Her Passion

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University of Utah Girls Volleyball, (Left) Tawnee Luafalemana (20), Adora Anae (14), (right) Berkley Oblad (12) huddle with teammates during BYU matchup at the Hunstman center in Salt Lake City, UT on Thursday,Sept.14, 2017 (Photo by Jose Remes/ Daily Utah Chronicle)

Aside from being an avid watcher of the TV show “Friends,” one thing most people wouldn’t know about freshman Alexa Van Komen of the University of Utah volleyball team is she was born in the state of Texas, but she grew up in a northern California city called El Dorado Hills.

Komen describes that area as a small and tight community that she enjoyed growing up in. With her high school being the center of attention, Komen said that those living in that city loved to make appearances at all the sporting events and get involved in any way possible.

“It was a very supportive community with a lot of parents wanting to help out at the high school,” Komen said. “Everyone knows everyone where I’m from. It is right by Folsom Lake so everyone hung out there so it was really fun to grow up in a pretty place like that.”

When Komen was going through the recruiting process she knew she wanted to leave home and venture out to Utah for college because she has family living in state. Plus, her mom and grandparents were Utes themselves, and she was ready to follow in their footsteps even if it meant leaving the town that raised her.

On her first visit, Komen fell in love with the facilities that were offered to student-athletes along with the coaches and her future team. Komen also said she values her education and academics, and when she saw what Utah had to offer as far as schooling — specifically the business program — Komen knew it was a perfect fit.

As the regular season comes to a close, Komen has reflected on how crazy of a year it has been for her managing school and athletics as a freshman. But she also couldn’t have predicted how close she would become with her team and she is grateful for what it has done for her.

“I didn’t realize how much I was going to love it until I got here, but once I was here, my team has been nothing but awesome and so supportive,” Komen said. “We are all super close and we are all like a family.”

Head coach Beth Launiere said the two aspects that define Komen are her attitude and her work ethic. There isn’t anything Komen isn’t going to give her best effort in and when her number is called, Launiere knows she is always ready to go, and that’s exactly what drew Launiere to Komen in the first place.

“There are practices where she doesn’t get a lot of reps and sometimes that just happens with freshmen, but her attitude is always positive and keeping herself ready to go,” Launiere said. “For a coach, you couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Launiere would like to see Komen get more reps in during the offseason, as well as enhance her skills and build upon her strength and conditioning. Komen knows that she has room to improve and will have big shoes to fill once the seniors have moved on and a new group of incoming freshmen are welcomed to the team.

Komen is looking forward to showing the new freshmen the ropes and making friends. When freshmen arrive at Utah, she knows it can be a weird transition because everyone on the team is already close. But she wants to make sure they all feel comfortable and accepted. She has a few words of advice for those who will be new to the collegiate atmosphere like she was this year.

“As a freshman, know that it is a whole new life,” Komen said. “You have been living with your parents for 18 years so be ready to be an adult and be your own person, but be ready to have a lot of fun because college is way more fun than I thought. Also, be ready to work hard, but most important, be ready for a change.”

e.white@dailyutahchronicle.com

@emileewhiteee

Emilee White
Emilee White has been at The Daily Utah Chronicle for over a year, and she is currently the the assistant sports editor. She started her sports writing career with SwimSwam, and she has done an internship with the Deseret News.

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