Both libero Brianna Doehrmann and middle blocker Tawnee Luafalemana of the University of Utah volleyball team call the state of California home, so Utah’s cold weather and snow was quite an adjustment. Doehrmann loves the cold weather and the snow’s beauty. Luafalemana, on the other hand, likes it for the snowball fights.
“I don’t love it,” Luafalemana said. “But [I’m] getting there, slowly.”
Doehrmann laughed as she recalled the first time her family came to visit her during the winter. Her family didn’t pack clothes that were warm enough, so Doehrmann had to make a trip to the store to purchase warmer jackets for them.
The volleyball team has traditions that bring cheer to the winter break.
“Every winter we have a team secret Santa,” Doehrmann said. “It’s kind of like another team bonding thing we do, and it’s another reason to get together away from volleyball and just have fun. We’ll wear Christmas pajamas [and] last year people broke out some Santa onesies. It’s just something to get your mind off the game and to bond.”
The team’s annual winter break activities have helped members bond over the years. This season, the Utes had their best finish since joining the Pac-12 after finishing fourth in the conference and recording a record-setting 13 conference victories. Doehrmann believes the relationships they have formed with each other are in part due to the activities they do off the court.
“It’s super important because your relationship with your teammates is crucial, especially when you get on the court,” Doehrmann said. “Having a good relationship with them off the court leads to a great relationship on the court.”
As far as family traditions of their own, both Luafalemana and Doehrmann said what they look forward to the most, if they can sneak away from volleyball over the holiday break, is the time they get to spend with their families.
“Every winter my family has Christmas Eve at our house and my whole family, cousins and everyone comes over and we play white elephant,” Doehrmann said. “We wear Christmas pajamas. That’s what we do every year, and it’s exciting.”
Luafalemana, who has a special bond with her siblings, feels Christmas is the perfect occasion to lay low and spend time with the ones she loves.
“We don’t really have any [traditions] at Christmas,” Luafalemana said. “We don’t do much, actually. We just kind of sit at home and open presents around the Christmas tree. That sort of stuff.”