Petersen finishing career at home

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  • Sydney Petersen, alongside her mother, UNI volleyball Head Coach Bobbi Petersen, as well as her father, Duane Petersen, on Senior Night.

  • Sydney Petersen smiles during warmups before UNI’s volleyball match against Missouri State on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.

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Sydney Petersen was a well decorated athlete at the University of Texas. She was part of four NCAA Tournament teams, earned the starting libero position as a freshmen, helped lead the Longhorns to four Big 12 championships, recorded 1,027 digs for the Longhorns and so much more.

However, after her final season at Texas, Petersen was set on not playing her final year of eligibility. “That is until I went without volleyball for a few weeks and I missed it! I then decided to put my name in the portal!” she said. In response to COVID-19, the NCAA granted 2020-2021 collegiate athletes an extra year of eligibility. Petersen entered the transfer portal and ended up making UNI her new home. “The transfer portal is an awesome thing! I think it is super helpful for those trying to find a home,” Petersen said. 

Petersen was not only a standout athlete in college but also in high school at Dike-New Hartford. Going from high school athletics to collegiate athletics is a transition many underestimate. “The transition for me was extremely hard. Not only did I move away from home, but the sport I love to play just got a lot harder. The pace of the ball, the lifting, the academics were all high level,” Petersen said. 

Collegiate athletics are very demanding of the student athletes. “Your sport is your job. It is 365 days! You have in season, off season, and summer training. There is always something going on to help you in your sport,” Petersen said. “On top of all that is academics! I would say college sports are a lot more demanding than high school sports.” 

Her first two years at Texas would be extremely hard on her not only as an athlete but as a student as well. I was doing well in volleyball in the skill category but my mental side was horrible. My mentality and the way I thought about myself as an athlete was negative” Petersen said. 

It would not be until her junior year when she felt like she began to thrive, not only physically, but also mentally. “I worked on and still do my self talk, I journal, I visualize, I even sometimes meditate. This allowed me to see things clearly and recognize that I am not only Sydney the volleyball player but I am Sydney as a person. It was the separation that allowed me to thrive,” she said. 

Through the transfer portal she brought it back full circle by coming back home to finish out her final season. Petersen is the daughter of the Panthers head coach Bobbi Petersen, and chose to use her final year of eligibility to be with the Panthers. She’s not only rounding off her career with her mother, but also with her twin sister Baylee. This is the first time since high school that the twins are be back on the same court playing together.

“It has really been amazing playing with Baylee again! When we were in high school I felt like I took it for granted all of the sports and things we did together. Now being back together again feels so surreal,” Petersen said.

With this transition she also is finishing off playing under her mom. Petersen was not sure what to expect. “When I was in Texas my mom was my person for everything. I literally think I called her everyday. She was my go to about life, school, and volleyball. Whenever I needed someone to talk to she was there. Now coming here, and having her as my coach has kind of changed that a little bit,” she said. 

Petersen said she is still getting used to calling her “coach” and not “mom.” However, in summation of her volleyball career ending back at home, Petersen said “I would not change this experience for the world! I am so grateful to be coached under my mom!”