In the second of a three-part series, LSUsports.net will catch up with former LSU volleyball players who are currently playing professionally overseas, as they share their experiences playing after college and life abroad in another county.
Our second entry comes from Madie Jones, who is currently playing in Switzerland. After graduating in December with a degree in industrial engineering, the Plano, Texas, native, who is one of 19 players in team history to earn over 1,000 career kills while at LSU, was given a spot on a team in one of Switzerland’s top leagues.
Jones was a two-time All-SEC and All-LSWA pick, and played in 107 matches and 363 total sets from 2009-12 in Purple and Gold. The 2011 Player of the Year in the state was also a consistent selection on the SEC Academic Honor Roll and was on the 2010 SEC Community Service Team.
TEAM: FC Luzern
CITY: Luzern, Switzerland
“After some time away from volleyball after finishing my senior season at LSU, I started to realize how much I missed playing. Luckily, after graduating from LSU in December, I was offered a spot on a professional team in Switzerland's top league in a city called Lucerne! I knew that if I didn't accept, it would be a huge missed opportunity. Now that I'm here in Lucerne experiencing professional volleyball life, I know for sure that I made the right decision.
My team is full of experienced, talented and challenging teammates that make me better every day. The club has taken great care of me as well by renting me a really nice house in the middle of the city and getting me a bus pass for all my transportation needs. Sometimes it feels too good to be true to be living in this beautiful country and being paid to play a sport that I love!
However, that doesn't mean that professional volleyball comes without its challenges. The game overseas is extremely different than the game in college. It is a completely different mindset and it is a huge advantage as a player to be goal-oriented, disciplined and determined. Since I am now a "professional", I am expected to know how to coach myself and to be able to motivate myself. Thanks to my training as a player at LSU, these are things I am capable of! Sometimes after a hitting error, I find myself thinking, "What would Fran tell me to do right now?" I can even think back on strategies that Jill used to get me motivated to play, or strategies Sam used to help me think about the game in a different way. I set goals for each practice in order to improve as a player and help my team get better.
My situation is also a little different than others who go to play overseas. I was picked up by my team halfway through the season. This is my team's first year in Switzerland's top league, and they had some trouble winning games earlier in the regular season. Playoffs begin on Thursday and we are 1 of 4 teams battling it out for 2 spots to stay in the top league. I'm here for a very specific reason, which is to keep FC Luzern in the top league. My team is fully capable of doing this and I only hope to make things easier for them in the playoffs!
For me, playing professionally has been one more chance to play the game that I grew up loving. It is a blast to step into the gym every day with an attainable goal and to see my team getting better and better with every practice. It is also a chance to live in another country and experience another culture. I’m making it a point to enjoy every moment of my time as a pro volleyball player because it is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m so grateful that my time playing at LSU helped me become the player that I am today!”