Nov. 5, 2001
Since she has been young, Jennifer Anderson has dreamed of playing Division I college volleyball. As a high school senior, she was being recruited by a number of schools, including ACC rivals Georgia Tech and Clemson. Coming from Minier, IL, a town of only 1,200, and attending high school in nearby Stanford, IL, where her class totaled 150 students, Anderson dared to tour Florida State and Tallahassee.
“I had no idea where I wanted to go, and Florida State had been recruiting me, so I came down for a visit,” said Anderson. “My mom made me come alone as a test to realize how far away it was, being a small town girl, and to see if I could make it through the Atlanta airport to Tallahassee myself, get my own taxi, and get around in the city. I came down here and I loved it.
“I knew that the support staff was always here for the athletes, and the coaches were well-respected, well-known and had an established program. I loved the team, there’s a personality of everybody… there’s the ‘funny,’ the ‘serious,’ ‘the comedian.’ I knew I’d fit in somewhere and within the first five minutes I had a nickname (Strawberry Shortcake), so I knew it was right.”
The team no longer calls Anderson “Strawberry Shortcake,” she is now referred to affectionately as “411…” information. What has not changed, however, is Anderson’s love for her teammates and the unity they share.
“Coach Reynaud encourages us to spend time as a team, but also to expand our horizons with the rest of the student body. It’s hard, though, because we’re so busy and tend to flock together.
“Out of anything else, my roommates Alex and Dawn make me laugh the most because we like to have fun and we love each other like sisters. It’s fun just to hang out with them, and just doing nothing basically makes me laugh the most… just doing nothing with them.”
Anderson also feels she has a great relationship with Coach Reynaud, meeting together once a week just to talk about the offense.
“Everybody on the team meets with Coach on a regular basis, and it’s not just about volleyball, it’s about our personalities, our family, and our academics. She really treats us as students first and then as athletes.”
Besides the FSU coaching staff, Anderson also respects another coach in her life… her mother. Although she never had the opportunity to play for her mom, who coached a rival high school team, they did compete against one another in regionals her junior year of high school. Anderson would like to play professionally, but she, too, would like to coach in some facet, either in the high schools where she could also pursue her major, English education, or at the college level.
“My parents are very, very supportive. I’ve had a parent at every single home match that we’ve had so far. I realize more and more how much they really do sacrifice for me. They give me inspiration, if I’m down they pick me up, knowing just what to say, and they are great role models.”
Being around family and having home court advantage is something Anderson definitely considers a perk as the team will not only conclude their regular season in Tully Gymnasium, but also host the ACC Tournament.
“This past weekend we had our record attendance, so the support’s been great… during a couple rallies the crowd was cheering so loudly that I had goose-bumps. It was amazing. The crowd is the seventh man on the court, they do so much for us.
“Our goal is of course to win our regular season ACC matches from here on out, giving us a good ranking to go into the ACC tournament. Basically as a team we’re just taking care of our own business, and not being concerned whether this team wins or that team wins… let’s just win from here on out.”
Anderson certainly has not had a problem staying motivated on the court, or in the classroom. Describing her attitude as an inner competitive drive, she strives to always do her best. In volleyball, that means she puts up the best ball possible for her hitters to put down.
“I try to put my hitters in the best situation every time and ultimately I know that if I do my job, they’ll do their job,” explained Anderson. “I don’t worry about records or how many assists I get, at the end of the game the only thing I’m worried about is looking at the hitting percentage and seeing who had the most kills and whom I can pat on the back first.”
Academically, Anderson has also made quite an impression, receiving the President’s Award last spring. The honor goes to a freshman student-athlete who has demonstrated service to both the community and university, receives good grades, and shows potential for future leadership and success. She also serves as secretary of the Student Athlete Committee (SAC), reporting minutes to all of the coaches within the athletic department, as well as serving as the liaison between the team and Director of Athletics Dave Hart.
“I am a perfectionist and my hardest critic. I think sometimes athletes are stereotyped as being jocks who aren’t very smart, but I like to excel in the classroom and be a leader in the classroom. I feel if you are a leader academically, it’s easier for your teammates to look to you as a leader on the court. I feel my leadership carries over in other facets of my life.”
In asking how she has changed since coming to college at Florida State, Anderson feels that she has become more mature, responsible, and independent. Besides the weather being a positive attribute to being in Florida and never having to walk to class in the snow, Anderson also feels that southerners are friendlier than northerners.
“I love how friendly the southern people are, and I hope to some day consider myself a southerner and be that friendly.
“I love Florida State, I couldn’t have made a better choice. I always dreamed of playing Division I college volleyball as a little girl, and this is my dream come true. I know people say that, but it truly is an honor to play here.”