Sierra Crook, contributor
Centreville native Chelsea Overholt gives new meaning to the phrase "casting a wide net," especially for college graduates searching for careers.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Adelphi University in Long Island last spring, Overholt traveled 3,500 miles for the opportunity to play professional volleyball—while pursuing a master’s degree at Durham University in England.
But adapting to change is nothing new for the 22-year-old who starred in basketball and volleyball at Flint Hill School in Oakton.
Overholt experienced her first big move when she relocated from Northern Virginia to Garden City, NY in 2009 to attend Adelphi on a volleyball scholarship.
At Adelphi, the 5’11” broad-shouldered blonde had an extremely successful career. As a starting outside hitter, she amassed a trophy case full of awards, including the Division II Athletic Directors Association Academic Achievement Award and a spot on the Northeast 10 Conference’s First Team All-Conference roster in 2012.
“Chelsea was a great leader,” Overholt’s former teammate Colleen Raga, said. “She was the kind of player that always stepped up physically in needed situations.”
This leadership allowed Overholt to help her team make appearances in four consecutive NCAA tournaments and win the university’s first NE-10 Championship in volleyball in 2011, which she points to as one of her favorite experiences while playing for the program.
“I was fortunate enough to form countless memories and lifelong friendships throughout my four years there,” Overholt said of her time at Adelphi.
It’s these great experiences, coupled with her love for the game of volleyball that sent Overholt overseas. “I knew I wanted to keep playing volleyball after the season ended in 2012 and I just wasn't ready to hang it up,” she said.
With this in mind, and with the help of Adelphi’s head volleyball coach Danielle MacKnight, Overholt found Durham University.
Located in Durham, England, a northeast city with a rolling countryside that sits on the River Wear, Durham University is a public research institution and is ranked one of the top 100 universities in the world by Times Higher Education.
The opportunity to get her master’s in management at such a prestigious institution, while getting to play volleyball on Tem Durham, professional team associated with the university as well as gaining experience for her intended career made Durham the perfect fit for Overholt.
addition to a master's degree, I'm hoping to get to travel all over Europe and
take advantage of every opportunity available to me,” Overholt said.
While playing and going to school, Overholt will also coach the university's women’s B team, explaining that she hopes, “to gain valuable coaching experience and develop the necessary skills to be a successful coach down the road.”
What she looks forward to most though are the challenges being a professional athlete will bring.
“I'm excited about being able to compete at a professional level with some of the most highly skilled teammates I've ever had,” Overholt said. “I hope to continue to improve my game and reach my highest athletic potential.”
With the new experiences comes a little bit of culture shock however.
Driving on the left side of the road, the small, "un-American" portion sizes, a variety of hard-to-understand accents and the overall more laid-back culture are just some of the things Overholt said will take some getting use to.
Staying in touch with people back home is one adjustment that has been particularly difficult for Overholt, especially with a five-hour time difference.
Internet-based website like Skype, Facebook and Snapchat help her communicate with friends and family and fight homesickness.
Her former teammate Alayna Jackson said these challenges are nothing Overholt can’t handle. “[Chelsea] adapts to change well and gives her best effort in everything, which will make her very successful in England,” Jackson said.
As she starts to acclimate to this new and exciting life however, she is learning to embrace the differences.
“I'd have to say the overall culture shock has been the best experience for me,” Overholt said. “I've wanted to travel for a long time and now that I'm finally getting the chance to, I'm soaking up every ounce of it … I love everything about it so far.”