Ole Miss senior Emily Stroup has had a passion for volleyball as long as she could remember. The 6-foot outside hitter was surrounded by the sport, attending her older sisters’ volleyball games growing up. Stroup also found herself hitting the ball frequently in her backyard.
“I’ve just grown up in my family around volleyball. I would always be hitting it in my backyard and I joined the club when I was 11 or 12. That’s when I started playing competitively,” Stroup said.
While the Fargo, North Dakota native pursued volleyball with a club team, Summit, she could also be found on the basketball court. Due to her volleyball season being shorter than other clubs’, Stroup was able to play the two sports she loved.
“I liked it because normally they make you quit other sports because it’s such a long club season, but mine was shorter and I got to play basketball all the way through high school too,” she said.
During Stroup’s freshman and sophomore years of high school, the idea of playing collegiate volleyball started to become more apparent. Although the two-sport athlete started to get cards from colleges in the mail for both sports, Stroup said it was volleyball she favored more.
“I had some offers in basketball, too, but volleyball has always been my favorite. I’ve always loved it the most,” Stroup said.
Although Stroup has inked her name in the Ole Miss record books for career kills, single-season kills and single-match kills, the outside hitter said she struggled her freshman year. However, due to constant support from her family, she was able to continue to play the sport she loves.
“Not playing (my freshman year) was really hard for me. But my parents always told me to control what I could,” Stroup said. “I’m glad they told me that because it’s been the best decision of my life.”
Regardless of the distance from Oxford to Stroup’s hometown, her family has been able to attend most home games since her sophomore season.
“There’s pros and cons of coming here because it’s so far. But this year especially I think I have had a family member at every single game. My mom has been to almost every single game this year,” Stroup said. “It’s been awesome.”
Stroup said she has had various memorable moments on the court. This year it was beating Missouri and winning their first SEC match against foe Tennessee.
As well as enjoying her time on the court, Stroup and her teammates enjoy going to dinner and bonding outside of practice. They spend about four hours on the court daily, which produced a “dynamic that has been stronger than ever.”
“Our team is very close. And on weekends a bunch of my teammates always come over and hang out. I think that also helps with a better bond on the court,” Stroup said. “It’s just important to have a good bond off the court as well as on the court.”
Stroup says she plans to she hopes to go north for graduate school—to pursue speech therapy—after she graduates from Ole Miss. She has also thought about playing volleyball overseas.