Hard work pays off for Briana Lilly

DANA LEE | STAFF REPORTER / Photo by Nora Navin

Late afternoon light angles through the paneled windows of Hinkle Fieldhouse, splaying across the volleyball court, the pattern of its wooden boards a familiar sight for Butler University women’s volleyball player Briana Lilly.

The first-year says she spends about 30 hours of her week devoted solely to anything volleyball related. This includes practice, tournaments, traveling, scouting other teams and everything else in between.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, Lilly will wake up at 5:30 a.m. and arrive at Hinkle at 6:15 a.m. to set up the nets for practice, which runs from 6:45 until 9. Afterwards, there is a brief 20-minute lifting session before Lilly heads to class.

“Day-to-day, it seems hard,” Lilly said. “But I look back and I’m like, ‘It’s not that bad.’ I plan my days so I’m not completely burned out.”

For Lilly, this means planning around volleyball and classes, making sure to organize time for naps and meals, friends and studying. And coffee. Don’t forget the coffee.

“It’s not too bad, I get to stop for coffee every now and then, so that’s good,” Lilly said.

In that respect, the Butler volleyball player seems no different from any other student waiting in line at Starbucks before class. She’s a self-proclaimed Netflix lover, admits that her room may get messy and that sometimes her laundry doesn’t always get done. And, of course, calls home are essential to ensure that her mom and dad don’t get worried.

For Lilly, being on the volleyball team is normal, like an extracurricular with a busier schedule. Like every other student on campus, Lilly is just trying to fit it all in, while staying sane.

That sounds like all Butler students–at least until one adds in the fact that normal Tuesdays and Thursdays for Lilly look like the following: one-on-one practice with a coach, class, practice from 4-6:30 p.m., followed by an hour or two of studying to maintain grades.

“[The volleyball team] has to keep a certain GPA which is a big motivator, and then my parents love it when I get good grades, so that’s a really big inspiration for me,” said Lilly. “I just don’t want to let the team down and have to be on probation. I don’t like to let my grades get down either, so I like a certain standard.”

By anyone’s standards, the first-year has a lot on her plate. When asked if balancing all of the above becomes overwhelming, Lilly nodded.

“It’s a good kind of overwhelming. I expected it to be this hard and it kind of pumps me up, if that makes any sense.

For Lilly, it’s all worth it. Waking up at 5:30 a.m. Staying healthy. Lifting. Practices. Classes. Traveling. All the other demands of being a collegiate student-athlete.

“It’s just this passion. I want to give it my all so our team can do really well. I love volleyball, so when it gets overwhelming, I get to do my favorite thing. More than I planned, but I love it.”