U.S. Olympic Athlete Brooke Sweat, Fellow Beach Volleyball Pro Emily Day To Visit Nova's College Athletes, Locals In Fort Lauderdale
Two professional U.S. beach volleyball players who are opponents on the sand are teaming up to promote healthy, active lifestyles during a Fort Lauderdale event next week.
Brooke Sweat, who made her Olympic debut this summer, and fellow beach volleyball pro Emily Day will head to Nova Southeastern University on Friday, Sept. 23, to meet with the college's athletes and locals.
Sweat and Day—who are, in fact, friends despite competing against each other in international tournaments—will hold a free community meet-and-greet at 5 p.m. There will be free Smoothie King samples and an autograph signing before the Nova volleyball match against Florida Southern College starts at 7 p.m. Admission to the game is included.
"I'm excited just to meet them, hang out with them, share my story, share my love for the game," said Sweat, a southwest Florida native.
Sweat, who played indoor volleyball at Florida Gulf Coast University, plans to be in the crowd, watching the evening matchup. She recalls trips to their campuses for matches against Nova and Florida Southern during her college years.
She grew up with two older brothers in the Fort Myers area, playing pretty much every sport. She started playing indoor volleyball in the fifth grade and continued with it at FGCU, but it wasn't until after college that she picked up beach volleyball.
"I never played beach volleyball until I started dating Nick [Sweat, a former beach volleyball player]...," she said. "Once I graduated from FGCU and I finished playing indoor, I just started on the beach, playing with my husband and his brother."
Less than a decade later, Sweat would find herself qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team.
She celebrated over a quiet dinner with teammate Lauren Fendrick and their families following the Germany tournament that secured their position as the second qualifying U.S. women's team, behind Olympians Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross. (Day, the other pro volleyball player who'll be at Nova, was part of the team that came in third.)
The veterans prepped Sweat and Fendrick on what to expect, and gold medalist Phil Dalhausser, who also traveled to the 2016 Olympics, shared some words of advice with the first-timers as well: "Take it one point at a time."
This August may have been Sweat's first time competing in the Olympics, but it was not her first international competition in Rio.
"We had a good idea of what to expect, a good idea of the beach and the atmosphere. That was nice—going down there knowing what to expect," Sweat said.
And to think, Sweat made it there despite sustaining what could've been a career-ending shoulder injury during the 2015-2016 qualifying period. She says she has teammate Fendrick to thank for her understanding and support when she could've just called on another player to compete with her.
"It just made us stronger as a team," she said. "She's been really steady as a player, as a person. I think that's helped."
When Sweat meets Nova's athletes next week, she'll remind them of the lesson she's learned through experiences like these.
"There are going to be a lot of people who are going to tell you you can't do it. … You got to focus on all the reasons why you can make it," she said.
(Photo courtesy Brooke Sweat)