“Coming to CSM, I have been able to open new doors and have more responsibilities …”
Growing up in a military family, Reagan “Tui” Tuiasosopo learned at a young age the value of independence and flexibility. Born at Joint Base Andrews in Camp Springs, her military life took her far and wide, from Maryland to Texas and Bosnia before returning to Waldorf, Maryland where she began to lay down roots, and feed her passion for sports.
She said she dabbled with softball, archery and horseback riding, but it was the need to dig, set and spike that hooked her forever into the game of volleyball – in part, because she was surrounded by great volleyball players. She explained that her love for volleyball came from her mother, who played Division I at Abilene Christian University in Texas, and from her cousin, Leslie Gabriel, who played for the University of Washington (UW) Huskies in the 1990s and currently serves as associate head coach for the UW Women’s Volleyball team.
“I come from a volleyball family,” Tui shared. “Ever since I can remember growing up, it was always volleyball.”
Her volleyball career started at North Point High School and led to the Southern Maryland Volleyball Club (SMVC) where she is now an assistant coach for the SMVC U-16 team. She is also coaching at the Port Tobacco Rec Center.
Last year was her first season as a student athlete on the College of Southern Maryland Volleyball team, and she played in 21 matches, recording 34 kills, 18 digs and seven aces. But she said she felt she didn’t get a consistent amount of court time due to playing in a rotation last year.
“It was weird last year because I was rotating in and out between starting and only played front row,” she explained. Her lack of court time motivated her to work hard this past offseason, and it has paid off. As of Oct. 1, she had 47 kills, 69 digs and six serving aces.
“In preseason (this season) I was getting in the gym, coaching and was able to see the game at different angles,” she shared. “Viewing the game in multiple ways has helped me on the court in a way I wasn’t able to see the floor before, especially with technique and form. I was able to get into the gym a lot more this year than last, and it has helped me play in three straight sets. I am able to persevere through a long match, giving me more endurance which is accredited to the work I put in off the court.”
This year, with the amount of youth and experience on the current Hawks’ roster, she said she was glad to take on the role as one of the captains of the team. With a greater amount of touches and a significant increase in playing time, she has embraced the challenge.
“This year is definitely a little harder because I’m an outside hitter, playing all the way around,” she explained. “With the amount of girls we have on the team, it’s a lot more grueling because we normally go three straight sets, but I get a lot more touches. Physically it can be draining at the end of the day, but it’s endurance at that point.
“I think I have assumed the role pretty well,” she said, of being a captain. “We have a lot of inexperienced players; they play and come out here for fun and to compete. It’s a joy to see the girls and watch them grow. I think being a captain and helping these girls out has been an easy transition to slide into.”
Another aspect that has helped the Hawks this season is their chemistry, on and off the court. “All of us are friends on and off the court, and there has never been any drama. It’s so nice that everyone is here for each other and playing a game we all love to play.” The team’s chemistry may have contributed to their first victory of the season over Howard Community College in the Raptors Invitational.
After her athletic and academic career at CSM, Tui plans on transferring to a four-year school where she can concentrate on her major: graphic design. She said she was always fascinated with art, growing up by drawing or working on any kind of arts and crafts. She said she realized in high school that CSM was the perfect choice for her to start her education and build her volleyball skills.
“Attending CSM was the best decision for me,” said Tui. “It made the most sense. It is near home, affordable and I get the chance to play volleyball. My family is so happy for me, especially my dad, because his first child is playing (a sport) in college.
“Coming to CSM I have been able to open new doors and have more responsibilities,” she continued. “I didn’t think I was going to play volleyball, now I am captain of the team. There were things I didn’t think that were going to happen, but through my experiences and people I have connected with, I have a chance to find new opportunities for myself.”
If situations or circumstances arise that appear to be not in her favor, she said she relies on a piece of life advice from her father: ‘suck it up and keep playing.’
“When coaches or people make decisions you may not agree with, it’s because you’re either young or lack experience and you may not understand,” she said, quoting her father. “Even when the score of a game is a wide margin, whether it’s on or off the court, you suck it up and keep on playing because you can’t dwell on the past, you can’t fix it, so you just have to keep pushing through.”
The College of Southern Maryland offers men’s and women’s basketball, cross-country, lacrosse and soccer, men’s baseball and golf, and women’s softball and volleyball. Students must be enrolled at CSM in a minimum of 12 credit hours for the entire time they participate in a sport. This is considered full-time status and is required by the NJCAA. Those interested in participating in athletics at CSM can learn more about the athletic programs and find a recruitment questionnaire at http://athletics.csmd.edu/information/recruitment_questionnaire. To follow CSM athletics, visit the Hawk Athletics at http://athletics.csmd.edu/landing/index.