Featured Athlete: Vanessa Owusu

Vanessa+Owusu

Kelly Wenzel

Vanessa Owusu

Vanessa Owusu, captain of the Roosevelt University Lakers women’s volleyball team and a senior sociology major, just wrapped up her fourth season on the team with a record of 22 wins and 17 losses.

Owusu was introduced to volleyball at age 10 when she watched her brothers play the sport and decided she wanted to give it a try. She began playing basketball at the same age.

While attending Joliet Catholic High School, Owusu pursued both sports, playing for various volleyball and basketball club teams in the Joliet, Illinois area. However, Owusu decided to stop pursuing basketball at the end of her senior year of high school and opted to focus on volleyball.

Owusu said she helped start the volleyball team during her freshman year of college. After her sophomore year, she was named team captain and has watched the program grow since its 2011 launch.

The Chronicle spoke with Owusu about her passion for volleyball and basketball, changing majors halfway through college and what it has been like to watch the Roosevelt volleyball team grow.

THE CHRONICLE: What do you like most about volleyball?

VANESSA OWUSU: I really like the competitiveness. When I was younger, I played basketball and volleyball. Basketball was more natural to me, and I just like to be able to train for volleyball—I always have to do extra work to get better at what I wanted to do.

Why did you choose to play volleyball instead of basketball?

VO: The work ethic. I always had to work extra to play volleyball, and I always had to do private lessons and train harder. I just like to be able to work for what I was doing. It’s more of just the challenge that I like. I really like to [know I’m] able to do something on my own or that I was able to exceed the limits or challenge myself. It’s a great feeling. For example, even with things like school—say I didn’t get a problem right on my homework assignment—if I’m able to teach myself, it’s probably one of the best feelings you can have.

What made you decide to continue playing in college?

VO: I played club volleyball, so probably near the end of my last club season, I realized I wasn’t really feeling basketball at that moment. I really wanted to explore my options to see if I could play volleyball in college, and I was given the opportunity to.

What do you like most about majoring in sociology?

VO: I was actually a biology major before, but it was hard for me to do volleyball and biology. I’m the type of person that—although I do like to take risks—success is really important to me, and the fact that I really wasn’t doing the best that I could do with biology made it hard for me to really see myself [pursuing it] to my max potential. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue sociology or psychology, and then when I got into sociology [I realized that] there’s a lot about this world that I didn’t know about. It was one of those things that I wanted to try and see how it goes, and it turned out to be a great decision.

How did it feel to help kickstart the volleyball team?

VO: To know that I was a part of the beginning [of the] program and to see how much we’ve changed in the last three years, starting from the ground up [is great]. Starting from when I was a freshman, where we just started our program. Starting from the ground and building upward is a great feeling.