by GABRIELLA DEPINHO, Asst. News Editor
Olyvia Chaltas is senior from Temecula, CA on the Manhattan College volleyball team. Before entering her final season with the team, she spent the summer playing volleyball for the Albanian women’s national team. She experienced a historic run by the national team which included a trip to the semifinals of the Confédération Européenne de Volleyball (CEV) Silver European League Championship.
The Quadrangle: How did you start playing volleyball in the first place?
Olyvia Chaltas: “Growing up, I was always playing a bunch of sports. It was just part of our family values to always be a part of something, especially part of something like sports teams. My neighbors, who are family friends, both of their daughters are a few years older than me and they played volleyball. They said ‘you’re tall, you should try it’ and I just remember going to my first camp and falling in love with the sport and I’ve been playing ever since.”
TQ: When you were in high school, was it your plan to play at a collegiate level? How do you think playing on a college team helped you grow?
OC: “Yeah, it was always my dream to play on a Division I level team. Ever since I started playing volleyball, it was a huge goal of mine. First of all, accomplishing that goal made me grow as a person because you realize when you put in enough work towards something you’re passionate about, you can achieve what you want. Playing at a collegiate level teaches you a lot of values that you can take into the workplace or life in general. Time management, teamwork, passion even.”
TQ: Do you think sports has influenced your studies in any way?
OC: “I think so. My major is marketing and my minor is religious studies. Business is a big teamwork environment to be in. You’re constantly working with people on projects, things like that, so I think that aspect that I’ve learned from volleyball is going to play a big part when I’m in the professional workplace.”
TQ: This past summer, you spent time with the Albanian national volleyball team. How did that get set up?
OC: “So my old club team, they have connections in Albania with the national team. I was back over winter break playing the club’s alumni game and some of the coaches said like ‘you’re playing really great, it’s great to see you’ and all of this and ‘we were wondering if you’d be interested in going overseas this summer to play with the Albanian national team?’ I am Greek-Albanian so I would be able to play with them so it translates in that way, so I jumped at the opportunity.”
TQ: So you just said it could translate. Do you want to play for a national team, whether it’s the Albanian team or the American team? Or was it just a fun summer thing?
OC: “It was amazing and fun this summer. Like I said, my goal up until going into college, was to be a college athlete and all of that. Ever since I started playing, even going on visits, recruiting trips, before I signed anywhere, I asked if they had any players going professional, anyone going beyond college because that has been a goal of mine as well. To continue playing after college. If that works out, that would be awesome.”
TQ: What was the experience like? Did you go to practices and games with them?
OC: “I did everything. Practices, scrimmages, playing. I lived with the team, I ate with team, I traveled with them. I really became part of their family. That was one of my favorite parts was really just becoming close with team and the coaches and really just learning from them. Seeing new places, experiencing European volleyball which has a different feel than American volleyball.”
TQ: What did you learn there that you plan to bring into your season here?
OC: “I learned a lot. I think it made me a lot smarter as a player because these women I played with, many of them had been playing volleyball for twenty years or more and you learn so much from them. They’re so passionate because this is a job for them. They’ve been doing this all their life. The passion for the sport, ball IQ, really those are the two major things I took away.”
TQ: So how are you feeling being that this is your last season with the team? Are you excited? What are your hopes for the season?
OC: “I’m for sure fired up! It’s my last year so it’s crazy how the time has flown by but I’m really just focusing on having fun with my team, building that family environment, playing with passion and just having the most fun I can in my last year of playing college volleyball.”
TQ: Is there any advice you’ve learned from over your years here and even from this summer that you plan on imparting with the new freshmen? What do you want your lasting impact to be?
OC: “Just enjoy every second. Like I said, time just flies by. I can’t believe I’m a senior. I’m trying to instill the values of our program, but also teaching them to have fun with all of it. At the end of the day, I don’t really remember how many wins and losses I had over the years, it was really just about being with team, playing volleyball and having a great time.”