Over the past five years, middle blocker Evann Slaughter has been an integral part of the Stony Brook women’s volleyball team. Since joining the team in 2010, the redshirt senior has been among team leaders in kills and blocks and has even been named to the All-America East team.
Astoundingly, this volleyball star has not always been drawn to the courts. Slaughter never played competitively before high school, as she focused mainly on the track team. During her freshman year at Oxon Hill High School in Maryland, a routine trip to track practice would change her life forever.
“I was on my way to track practice when I saw some girls in the gym playing volleyball,” Slaughter said. “I asked if I could play and they told me tryouts were the next week. The rest is history.”
After picking up the game, Slaughter immediately thrived and had no shortage of offers to play at the collegiate level. Due to her standing as a star in both track and volleyball, she had to decide not only what school she wanted to go to, but what sport she would play.
Slaughter received an enticing offer from Stanford University to be a part of their track program. But once she got the chance to make a visit to the Stony Brook campus she knew she wanted to be a Seawolf.
“I really liked it here. I decided to come here because of the medical program, and the volleyball team was really outgoing and nice to me,” Slaughter said. “The team really secured Stony Brook for me.”
After coming to Stony Brook, it would take Slaughter little time to acclimate. She won America East rookie of the year in 2010, and had already established herself as one of the team’s premier stars.
However, all of her on-court success did not come without the stress of being a student-athlete. Slaughter nearly walked away from the game during her sophomore year after intense scrutiny from coaches led to mounting pressure.
“At the end of my sophomore year my coaches had put a lot of pressure on me and when I didn’t perform, I thought I wasn’t good anymore.” Slaughter said.
Evidently, nobody else felt that Slaughter had lost her touch. Not wanting to lose one of their stars, her teammates quickly persuaded her to stay. Slaughter decided to take their advice, and continued to play volleyball.
Slaughter said. “They told me to relax and stay on the team, and I did so it was great having my teammates to support me.”
Two years later, an even bigger challenge would threaten her volleyball future. A torn ACL would force Slaughter to miss the entire 2013 season and would cause a great amount of uncertainty and difficulty for the Seawolves star. Being away from the court was a practice she was not used to.
“I had been playing for three years straight in every match and every game of the season, and you want to be on the court so badly.” Slaughter said.
The six month recovery process that would ensue after the injury called for daily rehab regimen in order to build the strength in her knee back. She credits this process for making her a physically and mentally stronger individual.
“This whole situation helped me grow as a person,” Slaughter said. “I learned to be patient, mentally strong, and mentally capable and to adapt to the situations I’m faced with.”
Due to the fact that she was not able to play last year, Slaughter was given an additional year of eligibility from the NCAA. As the most experienced player on the team, she is now affectionately called “Grandma” by her teammates.
“I’m just trying to stay consistent for the team this season,” Slaughter said.
Slaugter’s presence on the volleyball court is not limited to collegiate athletics. Last summer, she got the opportunity of a lifetime when she represented the United States in Pula, Croatia for the European Global Challenge. This “miniature Olympics,” as Slaughter called it, would pin the Seawolves star against some of the best volleyball players on the planet.
“We played teams from Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia,” Slaughter said. “It was beautiful around the Mediterranean Sea. We were able to go to just go to the beach after volleyball.”
Now that she has returned to the states, Slaughter is enjoying her final season at Stony Brook.
After graduating with a degree in anthropology last spring, she is currently taking some post-baccalaureate classes in preparation for physician’s assistant school in the future.
“I love what I’m doing,” she said. “ I love to play volleyball, I love going to class and I love learning. So I get the best of both worlds.”
Even after the volleyball season comes to a close later this fall, Slaughter plans on keeping the game she loves in her future plans. Before she sets out to become a physician’s assistant, Slaughter plans on playing professional volleyball in Europe.
“Going over to Europe this summer solidified that [playing professionally] is what I want to do,” Slaughter said.
There is no questioning that Slaughter is quite dedicated to volleyball and the game has been a major factor in her life. Recently, a project for a writing class about how crucial her decision to play at Stony Brook was to her life put things into perspective for the star middle hitter.
“I did a project on how much this decision changed my life. I could have easily gone to a higher profile school like Stanford for track, but I decided to come to Stony brook and play volleyball so I think I made the right choice.”