Catie Wilson still remembers the message from her coach during her junior year in high school.
"This is your role. Accept it or don't be part of the team," she recalled after Friday's season-ending loss to Texas A&M.
That first of many “role meetings,” as her coach called them, helped the MU sophomore middle blocker first to get to Division I volleyball and then to deal with limited playing time there.
“The first one was kind of a wake-up call,” Wilson said. “And it kind of got everything in check. And, I really think that it helped my attitude a lot. It helped me becoming more of a team player.”
Wilson is from Omaha, Neb., where high school and club volleyball is particularly popular, she said. The role meetings often clashed with some players’ goals.
“We had some girls who had a really, really hard time dealing with it, and accepting the role that the coaches had given them,” Wilson said. “But those girls weren’t on our team very long.”
Wilson has played in Missouri’s last three matches, including Friday’s 25-21, 25-20, 20-25, 25-16 loss.
She had sat on the bench for the previous four.
Wilson said those meetings from three years ago have helped her accept her role at Missouri.
“Whatever my role on the team is, I’ll accept it,” Wilson said. “If that’s being on the court, or if it’s being more of a vocal leader, I’ll accept whatever they give me.”
In Friday's loss, Wilson played with her roommate, junior Lauren Nuckolls, another player who doesn't play in every match.
“It was really fun,” Nuckolls said. “The whole season we always joked around that we would never get in at the same time. So it was really fun, because our last game of the season we got to play.
Wilson played in 22 of the team's 30 matches, starting in five. Nuckolls played in 21 matches and started three.
"Seriously, the whole season, she’ll get in or I’ll get in, but neither of us are in at the same time. So it was a lot of fun.”
Nuckolls said the pair can motivate each other with their jokes when they are on the court.
“We take it serious, but we also have fun on the court, and we just get really excited,” Wilson said. “And we’re both really intense people, so we just have a lot of fun.”
Nuckolls said her roomate often has a big smile, whether she's playing or not.
“She always looks like a big kid when she’s cheering,” Nuckolls said. “So we kind of always just make fun of her when she does that.”