Staying positive in the face of adversity

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Student-athlete spotlight on junior Catherine Dowgwillo

 

By Jake Loel

Contributing Writer

 

 

 

I had the pleasure of meeting with junior volleyball player Catherine Dowgwillo last Thursday for a short, impromptu interview on the Mall. It’s a little miracle she had time for me at all, since the volleyball team had seven matches that week, and almost all of them were away games. As she sat with me on the Mall, confidence seemed to emanate from Catherine, or Cat, as her friends have dubbed her. The road to success has not been an easy one for Cat, but the 6-foot middle blocker from St. Louis, Miss., has overcome quite a lot since she started playing club volleyball at age 11.

Cat played on four different club teams before truly starting her career on a very competitive club team with which she went to two national championships. She also played for her grade school team and her high school team at Cor Jesu Academy. While in high school, she coached the freshman team in addition to playing varsity. Despite her confidence, Cat seemed hesitant to talk about her successes in volleyball. When pressed, Cat admitted she had been recruited heavily by Division I schools until sophomore year in high school when she suffered a debilitating back injury.

Cat Dowgwillo (left) shines on the court with her undeniable talent and  infectious positive demeanor.  -University of Dallas Photo
Cat Dowgwillo (left) shines on the court with her undeniable talent and infectious positive demeanor.
-University of Dallas Photo

“After that I lost my drive,” Dowgwillo said. “To be a club volleyball player at that level just becomes your life.” After a pause, she smirked, and added “I also lost my vertical.”

Being a student-athlete at the University of Dallas is “sometimes not as glamourous as you would think,” Cat exclaimed. “There’s the stereotype which goes along with being an athlete at this school, which is unfortunate for the amount of work the team does,” Cat said with a sigh. “But, there’s also an amount of pride in it — between the practice, the lifting, the 18-to 19- credit hour semesters.”

She told a story about a professor who went out of her way to make sure Cat could keep up in the class despite her busy schedule, and I could not help but notice her humility and ability to find the positive in everything. “The professors really do recognize our hard work,” Cat said.

Cat mentioned a few of her inspirations.

“My parents made huge sacrifices for me to play,” she said. “My mom went to literally every game. She did lots of travel and would sit in a chair for five hours while we played.”

Besides her mom and dad, Cat cites the kids she coaches as her inspiration.

“To see them laughing and hitting the ball just reminds me why I love the sport,” she explained, beaming.

Despite being loaded down with classwork and volleyball, Cat lingered and asked me how I was doing. When I asked for a picture, she put on an embarrassed yet good-natured smile for the camera. When you come out to watch the Lady Crusader volleyball game against Jarvis Christian College on Thursday, Oct. 2., be sure to keep an eye out for No. 13. Chances are, she’ll have a smile on her face.

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