Scan through the program at a Gator volleyball game, and you’ll see players from all over the United States. Keep scanning, and you’ll come across Noami Santos-Lamb. The Puerto Rico native, Santos-Lamb is a 5’11″ redshirt junior outside hitter. Unlike many of the players on the team, she attended high school outside of the states, attending Carvin School in her hometown of Carolina.
Santos-Lamb comes from a family of athletes; her father was a college and professional basketball player, her mother was a track star in college for Puerto Rico. And it was her father that taught her to play volleyball when she was four.
“Growing up, he tried to teach me how to play basketball and they (her parents) always tried to teach me,” Santos-Lamb said. “But I never liked the sport as a child. I played in high school and middle school, but I was never a fan of contact sports.”
Prior to attending Florida, Santos-Lamb represented her country in the 2010 FIVB World Championship, before receiving the honor again in 2014.
“It was great,” Santos-Lamb said. “It was great to get the call from not only a great player, but my close friend Aury Cruz. She was the first person to call me, even before I knew that I was going to be called.”
Through the national team, Santos-Lamb played alongside former Gator standout and All-American Aury Cruz, who played a vital role as an unofficial ambassador for the university.
“This is really surprising,” Santos-Lamb said. “But I never really knew about college athletics until late in high school, like junior year when I started getting offers. And my first offer ever was Florida; the first school to ever show interest was Florida…nobody ever really stood a chance, in that way.”
Once at Florida, Santos-Lamb quickly acclimated herself into the squad. She saw action in 15 matches, including sets in the NCAA tournaments. The biggest blow for the outside hitter came in the preseason of her sophomore year, when she tore her ACL. The injury would force her to redshirt a season, and cost her a year of game play.
“It was a really tough time,” Santos-Lamb said. “I was crying on the sideline in the first match of that season. It was a hard time. To come out here, and do all the work, and in a split second, a year is gone.”
But through hard training regiment, and the support of her family, coaches, and team, she was able to make a full recovery.
Santos-Lamb is now a redshirt junior and is posting season-high numbers across the board. She says that the outlook on the season is bright, and that the team is taking a different approach to the season, not just focusing on winning a “natty champ” (national championship).
“We’re just winning,” she said. “And then we move on. It’s about learning when we win. We’ve been having a lot of discussions and dialog about what’s going on within the team.”