Being a city girl from Chicago, Ill. is no easy task in the town of South Orange, yet senior Danielle Schroeder has found a niche for herself both on and off the volleyball court.
Schroeder knew she would be leaving behind her favorite aspect of Chicago: the people. But, Seton Hall and the town of South Orange have introduced her to many new faces and personalities.
“The people here in South Orange, New Jersey in general, are just amazing people and they’re all so nice and sweet,” Schroeder said. “It really was easy to just find my friends here.”
Despite being so far from the people back home, Schroeder has found that the trend of people that influence her most had followed her to the Hall in the form of strong female figures.
“I had mainly women coaches and now I have women coaches here. I think just having them kind of as a role model and they are just really helpful and very encouraging. It just made me love volleyball even more because they love watching me play and it made me feel more confident,” Schroeder said.
Schroeder enjoyed her volleyball coaches in Chicago as well, specifically her high school coach, who focused heavily on Schroeder’s development.
“[My high school coach] was very intense, but in a good way like very pushing, competitive, and very encouraging and teacher-like with volleyball because I still wasn’t great at volleyball, but she was always there to pull me aside. To pull anyone aside really not just me, to just help us and make us way better volleyball players,” Schroeder noted.
The influential women in Schroeder’s life go beyond volleyball, and include a familiar face from back home.
“She’s always been very close with her mother, and I know her mom is one of her really big role models,” Seton Hall head coach Allie Yeager said, “Just being a strong woman, Donna, her mother, and coming from a household like that, helps Dani. Her mom has done an awesome job with her to make her a strong woman.”
The women in Schroeder’s life have boosted her confidence and motivated her to constantly improve, which is seen in her rapid growth as a volleyball player at Seton Hall.
“We had a really good squad when they (the current seniors) came in so we didn’t have time to start from the basics and learn from the beginning,” Yeager said. “Dani’s been thrown in quick and it’s been a sense of urgency thing with her that she knew she had to come along quickly and she’s done a great job.”
Schroeder picked up the tone of Seton Hall volleyball quickly, and was already on the same page as her coach and teammates in terms of intensity, but finding her role on the squad was a more difficult.
“Competitive stuff is what we kinda strive for. I mean, its one of our goals as a coaching staff is to always make sure we’re doing something competitive on the floor,” Yeager said. “Dani is very, very competitive and she’s come a long way and we’ve tossed her around a lot. We had her on the outside, we’ve had her on the right side, and right side is her home I always say. When you see Dani on the right side she’s comfortable and that’s her home.”
After finding success in early years, Schroeder flourished on the right side and now leads the team in kills (202). She also earned a spot on the Big East Honor Roll three times this season. Both honors are the result of her coaches and her teammates.
“Just playing with everyone, we’re all really competitive,” Schroeder said. “Even through club and even here we’re competitive, but very encouraging and there for each other and whoever is playing the best volleyball; that’s who we want on the court and if that means that I’m going to be on the bench then I’m going to be cheering my butt off for everyone. There’s just a lot of very good connection with everyone that I’ve played with.”
These good connections Schroeder has with teammates have never been foreign to her due to positive energy and charisma. Her fellow senior teammate, Tessa Fournier, appreciates her attitude.
“She’s always in a good mood and she’s always like the one you can go to that’s always going to have good news and she’s always positive,” Fournier said. “It helps out a lot especially when we have a bad day, she’s still gonna be positive about it no matter what.”
That energy and attitude will be missed by not only her teammates, but Yeager too.
“My relationship with Dani is wonderful. She’s one of those kids where there’s never been an issue with her,” Yeager said. “I have such a great relationship with her and I’m going to miss her so much next year. She’s a great person to work with and to coach and hopefully to be one of our friends in the future.”
A Division I athlete and nursing student, Schroeder credits her unwavering positive energy and ability to balance to the impactful women she’s met at Seton Hall.
“I learned a lot from my coaches and teammates on how to be better at managing my time with volleyball and school,” Schroeder said. “The coaches really get to me and then players are my teammates, but family at the same time. So I really look up to all the coaches that I’ve had.”
Yeager believes that Schroeder deserves her own credit for her success as a student-athlete and strong woman.
“She’s an awesome human being and I think Dani forgets that sometimes. She has grown mentally so much in this gym, and at practice, and at games, and she’s learned a lot about herself and I want her to walk out of here knowing she’s a strong human being.”
Kyle Kasharian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ItsKyleKash