Seniors redefine their summer ‘break’

Joe Hanretty, Contributing Writer

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Dowgwillo and Birzer reap the benefits of their hard work as they lead the UD volleyball team to victory. University of Dallas photo.

The definition of success varies based on whether the success is of an individual or a team. However, most people can agree that success is a product of self-sacrifice. The blood, sweat and tears a person leaves in the weight room, on the field or on the court often determine the amount of success attained.

No matter how gifted a person may be, time and effort separate an ordinary competitor from someone who can be relied on to push a team to the next level.

Catherine ‘Cat’ Dowgwillo and Jaime Birzer, two senior volleyball players vying for one last chance at glory, have applied that exact philosophy to their own lives.

Birzer, a business major, decided to take on a full-time internship in the city of Ottawa, Kansas this summer. Renowned for her time spent in the weight room here on campus, her busy workout regimen was not surprising. She balanced work, lifting, nutrition and life. She managed to train five to six times a week — using weights, functional movements, sprints and plyometrics to help focus on increasing her speed, strength, stamina and agility.

Due to her work schedule and workout routine, Birzer would cook food a day in advance, cooking for that day and setting some aside for the next. This way, she could go straight to the gym directly from the office. “It was stressful at times, because it felt like once I’d gone to work, then the gym and then finally home, I was so exhausted and mentally drained of any motivation to do much of anything else,” Birzer said.

Luckily, Birzer kept a positive attitude about the whole process.

“A lot of times it felt like all I did was eat, be an intern, train and then eat some more,” she said, laughing. “But as mentally straining as it has been, it was so important to me to put in all the work I could, so it will hopefully pay off for my last season in competitive volleyball.”

Dowgwillo, also a business major, endured a somewhat different spring and summer offseason than Birzer. For the better part of two years, Dowgwillo has been dealing with what she calls an “overused arm.”

“By the end of last season, I had a lot of issues with raising my arm and having the strength to bring it forward… The pain was widespread and excruciating at times — I should be a spokesperson for Aleve or something,” Dowgwillo said.

After the season, Dowgwillo took some time to rest her shoulder, focusing instead on cardio and full body conditioning. You could find her in the gym, working hard to improve upon the durability and fitness she so keenly desires. She was quick to thank her teammate and close friend, Birzer, for her impressive dedication.

“It’s truly special having a teammate like Jaime who is a true inspiration for staying fit and healthy. Her dedication really helped [me] stick with going to the gym,” Dowgwillo said. These two put in the long hours and the hard work necessary for chasing their desired success. Their dedication and perseverance will be challenged Sept. 1, when they take on Dallas Christian College in the Maher Athletic Center. Until then, Dowgwillo and Birzer will continue to build upon their previous summer conditioning, working together to lead the volleyball team through this upcoming and promising season.

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