At the beginning of this year’s volleyball season, middle blocker Berkeley Oblad was ready for a great senior year. In 2017, Oblad was a team leader, recognized for many of her achievements that season. She received All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention, Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention, AVCA All-American Honorable Mention and AVCA All-Pacific South Region Honorable Mention.
But early in the 2018 season, everything changed for the Utes when Oblad found out she could no longer play and was out for the season due to an elbow injury.
“I kind of hurt it last October,” Oblad said, “It was a normal practice and I had just gotten a nice block. I could feel some pain that didn’t end up going away. Throughout the rest of the season, I practiced with one arm and played in games with two. I really thought it got better over the summer, but during double days I could feel that pain again. I then got one good block at the beginning of the season, and I could feel something was different. I got an MRI and [my arm] was torn all the way through. I got surgery, and I was done.”
It was difficult for Utah volleyball to adjust when a key leader of the team was out for the rest of the season.
“It was devastating,” head coach Beth Launiere said. “[Oblad] is a returning All-American. She is a reader and a director off and on the court. It wasn’t just the physical output, but her leadership as well.”
After the Utes lost one of their most valued team members, it was time for player Bailey Choy to step up and take the leadership role.
“She had to,” Launiere said. “I think Bailey was ready to take on a leadership role, but when Berkeley isn’t out on the court, she knew she had to step up — and she has. It’s been a learning experience for her. She’s getting better to the course of this year.”
Choy isn’t known for being one to demand things from others. Her teammates know her as a nice and laid back person. Since she has taken the role of a leader on the team, Choy has found her own successful way of leading the Utes this year.
“She understands what it takes to be successful,” Launiere said. “Bailey knows you have to work hard and you have to be disciplined. She leads by example and is a great influence that way. People look up to her as a role model in those areas and that’s how she leads the most.”
When Oblad injured her arm, Choy was ready to take on the role as a leader for the Utes. She is trying her best to take over anything Oblad would look after for the team.
“I feel like Berkeley [Oblad] was always on top of the little things, like being on time and not wearing jewelry,” said Choy. “Those things that really matter and the disciplined things that help us win games, I think, are more of the things that I am taking over for her and being more of a director like she was.”
Choy knew it was her responsibility as an upperclassman and as a setter to help her teammates succeed.
“My goal is to make everyone else around me better,” Choy said. “I think, as a setter, I have the opportunity to do that. For example, even if the pass isn’t there, I can make a hitter successful.”
Off the court, Choy has many qualities that her teammates look up to her for. Not only is she a friendly and kind person, but she is also great at managing her school schedule with her athletic life. Choy is currently a finance major and is as motivated in volleyball as she is in her education.
“I think the weekends are when we really take advantage of doing homework and prepare for the next week,” Choy said. “I know I like to do the readings or the homework in advance so when the time comes to turn in my assignments, I can quickly glance over and see if I have everything correct, so that it’s not a bunch of workload when we are traveling or when it’s due. I like to do things ahead of time. I don’t really like to procrastinate.”
Choy has come out powerful her junior year as a leader for the volleyball team. She has led by example, and through her kindness on the team, she has brought the Utes to a great season so far.