BY KARI FOSSUM ’20
Melissa Stewart ‘19 grew up with volleyball. First, she tagged along to games with her mother and sisters for years. She started playing at the age of 12 and continued to play throughout high school, before coaching for seven years after graduation.
Now, as a Frances Perkins Scholar, Stewart has stayed involved with the sport that impacts her life. Before Melissa contacted the former volleyball Coach Terrell, Stewart had not considered playing for Mount Holyoke but rather coaching. Nervous about fitting in on a team where her teammates were anywhere from four to eight years her junior, she said, “It’s all felt pretty effortless. The women in the volleyball program are brilliant and fun, and I’m grateful that I get to spend so much time with them. They made me feel at home at Mount Holyoke right away.”
“Growing up in athletics, you’re always told by coaches that sports are preparation for ‘real life.’ As an adult coaching teenagers, I said that to my players many times. Now that I’ve come full circle and I am a student-athlete again, that has an even deeper meaning for me; I see how much sports helped prepare me for adulthood and handling the conflicts and challenges of the past eight years.”
Describing the Francis Perkins program as “remarkable,’’ Stewart said her experience as an FP athlete on campus has been defined by the “Love and support on this campus, from both my fellow FPs, the faculty and traditional students.”