For Petersen, family is key to success

Baylee Petersen (8) stands next to her twin sister Sydney (2), preparing to receive a serve.


Baylee Petersen (8) stands next to her twin sister Sydney (2), preparing to receive a serve.

Emma Becker, Staff Writer, Graphic Designer

With sports, there are highs and lows just like any other aspect of life. It takes a lot of patience to improve and an even greater amount of support from others to help one get through those harder moments. For Baylee Petersen, a senior defensive specialist on the University of Northern Iowa’s volleyball team, the support system she has established when going through rough times in her volleyball career has played a huge part in learning how to bounce back and not lose hope, such as being injured for the 2021 season and not being able to play in any matches.

Petersen has been playing volleyball for around 13 years, having started in fourth grade, but she had been exposed to volleyball long before then. Her mom, Bobbi Petersen, is the head coach for UNI’s volleyball team. “I was able to watch the girls since I was very young,” Petersen said. “Just being able to see how much they grow throughout all four years was probably what my biggest inspiration was.” 

This appreciation for improvement is something that has remained with Petersen into her volleyball career. Petersen said the team goes through rigorous workouts in the off season in the spring to stay in shape and stay motivated. “As a team, we are very growth mindset in everything we do. Being able to have that mindset of yeah, this is hard and it kind of sucks right now, but you’re going to get through it, you’re going to get better, and even if you don’t succeed today, you’re going to come back the next day and do better.” 

For example, Petersen connected this same way of thinking with one of the team’s matches against Bradley on Nov. 5. “I had a really bad pass, but just knowing my teammates have my back, that I’ve been practicing, and have been at UNI for five years and that I have the skills to do it has helped,” she said.

But despite the hard times, all of the hard work has felt worth it. The relationships that she has established with her teammates, especially with her family on the team which include not just her mom, but her twin sister, Sydney, who joined UNI’s volleyball this year after four years at the University of Texas, and her aunt, Michelle Bolte, who is the Director of Volleyball Operations, have made her glad that she has stayed. 

Petersen reflected on her own progress over her five years at UNI. “I was looking at some old pictures with my mom and it was really fun to see the younger me playing volleyball,” she said.

Petersen also highlighted the importance of the rest of her family’s encouragement on her volleyball career and how they have really come through to show their support. For her, they are every bit a part of the team as well. “My hometown is like 20 minutes away from here so every home game, we have a big support group and I think that pushes me to want to be better. My little sisters also look up to me and I want to be a good role model for them too,” Petersen said. 

Even when things get hard, at the end of the day, there are always going to be people to help along the way and be there when they’re needed the most. “Just never give up and know that you have people in your corner that want to see you succeed and want you to do your best and that they have your back no matter what,” Petersen said.