Dream On - by Casey Sines: Personal Trainer, Coach, Model, Actor and former D1 Volleyball Player
I am a 6’0’’ tall woman born into an exceptionally athletic family. My mom played basketball on a scholarship in college, my dad is an incredible golfer, and my extended family decorates the sports hall of fame in the town where they grew up. I was that kid who was playing a sport every season of the year: basketball bled into softball, which turned into golf, which wound its way back around into basketball. I liked all of these sports, but with each one I was a novice where another family member was an expert. I remember having to practice all my basketball drills with my parents in our driveway and getting schooled by my mom as she would block my shots. In seventh grade, there was an option to try out for a new team: volleyball.
Instantaneously, I knew volleyball was my sport. First, no one in my family knew how to play...goodbye driveway lessons! Second, you got to dive around in knee pads. Third, being tall and gangly was an advantage instead of the distinct disadvantage my lack of muscle provided in basketball; see ya never box out drills!
I found my sport and dove in with an unmatched passion. I read books, watched professionals, stayed after practice, did exercises in my living room - whatever it took to become a little better. I believed in my dream of playing in college so deeply that when my 8th grade coach said I would probably never make it, it only turned into fuel for my internal fire. I look back sometimes and wonder about that 8th grader who believed so fully in a dream and wonder when I started to become afraid.
In high school, I had some of my first great coaches. My 9th grade coach believed in me. Truly, when I think back that’s all I can remember. A feeling that someone I looked up to believed I had what it took. I had no idea that I would spend years searching for a replication of that feeling and validation.
After that year, I tried out for the state’s most elite club volleyball team. Terrified out of my mind, but still holding my dream, I took a leap and made it onto the second best team for my age group. Happy to see I could compete at the elite level, I started to train even harder, determined to make the best team the following year, and I did. The following two years on the club volleyball circuit would not only lead me to a national championship win, but also to recruitment for college, some of my favorite teammates, and incredible coaching leadership. My coaches in my final high school years were all women and seasoned athletes. Each one had a slightly different style, the first more focused on game play and synergy, the second a believer in the power of fundamentals, and the third focused on leadership. The combined work from all of them set me up to become a top player in my state and on the radar for many college coaches.
I met what would be my first choice in a college coach my junior year after we won the national championship. I was jumping off the court, winded and exhilarated from my team’s win, when she pulled me aside to talk about the University of Memphis. I think Carrie Yerty, the head coach at the time, might be the greatest recruiter of all time. I almost immediately fell in love with how she made me feel: she believed in me.
Life rarely works out the way we think, and 3 months before I was scheduled to go to the University of Memphis Coach Yerty left to coach at the University of Wyoming. With tears in my eyes, I made the decision to continue to Memphis and play under the assistant coach who took over the job in her place.
I played at Memphis for 2 years before I transferred. College volleyball was a whole new game in ways that I had never trained for. Suddenly, “Casey” was “Casey the Volleyball Player.” End of statement. I was used to this title, but before I always felt I had given it to myself. This was how I wanted to define myself. I chose it. Now, this was who I was because that’s how it had to be. I’m the first to admit I’m stubborn and when that title was so firmly placed, I bucked against it until I felt it slam over me in a wave. Casey the Volleyball Player became all that I was.
I finished out my collegiate career at Butler University. Shortly after transferring, I tore my labrum in my shoulder. The injury required surgery and a 6-month recovery. My shoulder would heal, but my athletic mind would take years to recuperate. I redshirted and missed my first season at Butler to heal from the surgery. I sat on the bench and watched my position get filled. With each passing game I gave up a little more on my abilities and by the time I could return the girl with the fiery dream was scared, depressed, and beaten. Casey the Volleyball Player broke, and who was I without volleyball? Casey? Who was she?
The rest of my collegiate career was scattered with more injuries before a final knee surgery. And just as quickly as it started, my career was done.
I would spend the next 5 years attempting to find out who I was after sports. I worked in a corporate desk job after college and quickly fell into a deep depression that I refused to acknowledge. It would take breaking again, crying on the kitchen floor in the dark, to see how deeply the problem existed. I had no idea who I was, what I was doing, what I wanted...I left my corporate job to pursue something new and, in leaving, I slowly started to find a little more of myself. It took missteps, trial and error, and fun attempts at new jobs, but I now work as a coach, actor, and model and I am in love with the process of discovering Casey.
Reflecting on my journey, I think about some of the key moments when a different trajectory could’ve been launched. Would I have fought back after injury if I recognized the power I had as a whole individual, not just in my sport? Would that initial injury have happened if I was more focused on making all of me stronger, not just my body? What would’ve happened if I believed in Casey as much as I believed in Casey the Volleyball Player? I’ll never know these answers and, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change my path because it made me who I am today. But, when I work with young athletes now, the emphasis I place is on the whole person. Reminding them they’re more than their sport, believing in them, and focusing on all the things that make them great. And if in the end I can help other athletes with ambition see how much bigger they can dream with the whole of them involved, it’s all worth it.
Casey hails from Grand Rapids, Michigan where she grew up playing volleyball, golf, softball, and basketball. She continued with volleyball through college where she competed at the Division 1 level for both the University of Memphis and Butler University. Casey earned undergraduate degrees in Digital Media Production and Business Marketing from Butler University.
Casey is a certified personal and group fitness trainer and specializes in cardio, strength, and agility training. She coaches for several top fitness platforms including iFit with NordicTrack, TRX, Aaptiv, and Fabletics. Outside of coaching, Casey also works as an actor and model. Casey’s work as a model has covered fitness and lifestyle and she has been featured by some of the largest brands in the fitness industry and has appeared in publications globally. As an actor, her work can be seen in several short films, commercials, and most recently in virtual theatre.