For sophomore Gators volleyball player Gaby Mallette, the University of Florida gives her more than an opportunity to play volleyball, but the opportunity to receive a first rate education.
The 6-foot-2 outside hitter recently earned a spot on the Southeastern Conference Fall 2013 Academic Honor Roll. She was also named to the SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll in 2012. But Mallette admits balancing school and volleyball is not easy.
“It’s really, really hard. If I said it was easy, I’d be lying,” Mallette said.
Mallette knew the importance of academics even in high school. She attended the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida where she played volleyball for the Bulldogs. Mallette says Bolles not only prepared her for playing volleyball at a NCAA Division I school, but taking a college course load as well.
“Going to Bolles, a pretty challenging school, has helped me so much. I don’t know where I’d be without it,” Mallette said.
Mallette says discipline is the reason for her success in the classroom.
“What a lot of athletes, I think, forget is that we’re not here for our sport, we’re here to learn. So I think just keeping my priorities straight really helps,” Mallette said.
But the classroom is not the only place Mallette learns at UF. She says Gators Head Volleyball Coach Mary Wise also teaches her how to be a better person and player.
“I think I’ve changed so much since I’ve gotten here because Mary really does just make people grow up. I’m the baby and so my mom has always babied me, Mallette said, “But Mary pushes you so hard. For volleyball, she wants you to be a good player, but she wants you to be a great person as well. So every situation you go through, she can relate it back to your life and how it’s going to affect you when you have a job and stuff like that.”
Since Mallette strives to be well rounded, she plans to improve her volleyball game too. According to GatorZone.com, she ranks second on the team in total attacks (644) and fourth in kills (248). As an outside hitter, Mallette only plays in three rotations. But she says she plans to work on her serving as well.
“I think it’d be great for me to develop my game as an all-around player instead of just blocking and hitting,” said Mallette, “To just develop all my skills would be really good for me.”
Mallette is a Telecommunications major and she hopes to land an internship in the broadcasting field after she graduates.
“I love Telecommunications,” said Mallette, “I’d rather do some of that and feel like a real person than just an athlete for the rest of my life.”
But until she graduates, Mallette plans to keep up her strong work ethic on the court and in the classroom.
“Working hard and just not being satisfied are my biggest goals.”