It took a moment for Maggie Nedoma to recollect how long she has been playing volleyball.
“14 years,” Nedoma said.
The fifth year was immersed into the world of knee pads and service aces at just 6 years old. Her mother, Renee, took her under her wing while coaching a 10-and-under team. She spent countless hours in the gym watching the older girls develop their love for volleyball as she developed one of her own.
Her exposure to the game at a young age allowed Nedoma to become a force on the court in high school. She graduated Berea-Midpark High School as the career kills record holder and as the single season record holder for most aces, kills and digs. But despite having these talents, Nedoma was not always dead-set on continuing her journey at the collegiate level.
“In the beginning, honestly, I just played because that’s what I did … I was just playing to play. Then around 13 to 14 years old, you get recruited,” Nedoma said. “As you get older, you kind of find out the financial side.”
Her talent opened the door for Nedoma to receive funding for her education. She acknowledged that she would have most likely not been able to attend a higher institution otherwise. With that in mind, Nedoma pushed herself to land the recruiters’ radars.
Southern Illinois signed the opposite hitter, and she began her career in fall 2017. Nedoma spent two years there before transferring to Ohio her junior year.
In her first season with Ohio, Nedoma made a large impact on the court. The First-Team All-MAC selection led the team in kills with 388. Her power mixed well with the rest of the Bobcats, and she felt solid in her space as a silent leader. However, Nedoma realized she needed to become more vocal as she entered her final year with the team.
She wants to help grow the younger team members into leaders by being an “older sister” to them. Nedoma also wants to create a lasting, positive culture for her teammates so they can continue to succeed after she leaves Ohio.
“The biggest thing for me is just being confident, and what I have to say is going to be heard and acted on by the other girls,” Nedoma said.
But she doesn't want her voice to be the only one resonating through The Convo’s walls. Nedoma wants the younger Bobcats to feel comfortable speaking up when something is of concern. She encourages them to seek out leadership opportunities of their own, too.
Her age has also helped her realize that while it is important to take care of her teammates, it is equally as important to take care of herself.
After the 2021 spring season, Nedoma decided to take a break from volleyball-related activities. She stayed in Athens over the summer and worked in the weight room with coach Rodnei Santos. Her focus was on staying strong while allowing her body to relax from the wear and tear of her repetitive routine.
Nedoma eased herself back into the game by playing sand volleyball.
“Even though it’s volleyball, to me, it was so much fun and really brought my love of the game back,” Nedoma said.
Sand volleyball is traditionally played in pairs unlike indoor volleyball. It has the same basics, but there are slight changes in strategies and rule of play. She was able to stay active and reset her mind before practices were back in session.
Nedoma has also found her stride in the physical side of volleyball, too.
She earned the nickname “Thunder” by Ohio announcer Lou Horvath because of her hard-hitting playing style. Nedoma makes her opponents scramble each time they hear the smack of her hand on the ball, but, despite this, Nedoma saw a need to redistribute her power.
Now that she’s older, Nedoma doesn’t want to simply attack her opponents. She wants to play the game with strategy and intent. By using her more-developed game IQ, Nedoma has begun to slow the game down in her mind. Doing so also allows her to dissect the importance of her shots in such a fast-paced environment.
Her change in physicality also allowed her to evaluate her mental game.
Ohio has had an underwhelming start to the 2021 season, and Nedoma said her younger self would not have been able to handle the rough patches. Now, however, she takes each moment as they come.
Nedoma’s mind is set on how she and the team can grow from their learning curves. She focuses on navigating the good from the bad so that she can help the team succeed in the latter half of the season.
Reflecting back on all of her experiences, she has one piece of advice for her younger self.
“Remember why (you’re) here,” Nedoma said. “I started playing because it was fun, and my family loved to be around me. Younger Maggie sometimes would just freak out about everything … so just reminding myself that I love what I am doing, and it’s all going to work out. Everything happens for a reason.”