Five Sets with Payton Caffrey

  • By Alyssa Cantisani
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  • June 13, 2017 03:50 PM
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On adjusting to life as a freshman student-athlete ... 
With the schedule part, it’s hard, especially during season. Usually our academic advisors will try to give us that schedule where we can handle it during season, especially when we’re traveling. Traveling kind of makes it a little difficult. Then with family, I told myself that I was not going to get homesick; I knew that it was going to happen. About half way through the season I definitely started getting homesick. I missed my dad, I called him 24/7, I called my mom -  even my sister. That helped with getting over the hump that I had during volleyball. I have my funks, and my dad is usually there to help me get out of them instantly so not having him there was kind of difficult. Just hearing his voice over the phone helped me, and I feel like it just changed me when I got to the second half of the season.
On getting her start in volleyball ... 
My mom played volleyball when she was in high school, and she was just talking to me about it and I thought I would try something new. I started playing volleyball when I was around the age of six or seven. I played for the YMCA; that’s where my mom wanted me to start. After that, I played for a small club in Kansas and then I moved to Florida when I was in sixth grade. I played for my very first travel club. I was the only 10 year old on a 14 year-old team because that was the only age that they had. It was interesting. I was a defensive specialist 0  no hitting yet. It was fun just to be able to play at that level with the girls that I played with. They are all really successful now playing volleyball in college, and they’re enjoying it. I see pictures on Instagram and all that stuff. After that, I moved to Orlando and that’s when I played for OVA which was the big name club there and ever since then it’s just been up hill with volleyball. I can’t stop playing. When I’m on a break I’m constantly thinking about it like, I want to get back to it, I need to be touching a ball … stuff like that.
On whether she watched Big 12 volleyball growing up in Kansas ... 
I wouldn’t necessarily say Big 12 Volleyball, but I did grow up watching volleyball in general. The first college volleyball game I ever watched was Penn State and Florida, and I constantly am talking about that when people ask what got me interested in volleyball. Just watching that and seeing the competitiveness that both of those teams showed; it was insane. It made me instantly want to go and be successful like they were and be able to have the skills and go as far as they did. Obviously Penn State being a great team, (they have) lots of national championships, which is nice. But just watching that encouraged me so much to not give up. I was bad when I first started playing which isn’t a shocker. That’s how it usually goes, but I keep replaying that game in my head when I’m down and thinking that they were all at that point, they’ve been in your shoes, so just processing that. I think about it so much.
On the unique father/daughter relationship she has with her dad ... 
Well, my dad was also an athlete. He played football and he was a rower so he’s very competitive. It’s funny that I say this but we’re like best friends. We’re butting heads on one topic, he’s always right, I’m always right .. it’s just stuff like that. People look at us and think, our relationship is different than most father/daughter relationships. We have that relationship where we are constantly telling each other everything. He knows all of my friends here. It was super nice when he met them. We just have that relationship where I know that I can go to him for anything and everything and I see him in the stands. Before every game starts I always look at him, we flash a smile and he gives me a wink and stuff like that. Just having that support that he gives me makes me who I am today, and helps me as a player and as a person. His personality rubs off on mine with the competitiveness and he encourages me to be a role model. As he always tells me, “you have little girls looking up to you; you have to be on your A game. If you’re not on you’re a-game skill-wise you have to be there leader-wise.” So not being down and always having that positive attitude and a smile on your face.
On the support of her parents ... 
My mom definitely (suppoerted me). She loved it when I told her I wanted to play volleyball. She was super excited. She actually blew (I think) one of her knees out in volleyball. She’s always supported me and told me to stay healthy because she says, “you’re going to get so many opportunities and so many chances that I wish I would’ve gotten.” Possibly having the chance of going overseas - that’s obviously one of my big dreams is being able to play professionally. Then with my dad, he supports me 24/7. He wants me to compete even if it’s against small teams not big schools, not Big 12 teams even. Never play down to their level, that’s what he always tells me. Play to the expectation that you have of yourself. 

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