After spending the majority of her first two years off the sand, senior Ivey Weber is leading the Sun Devils into the new season after playing in every match in her junior year.
Weber only played in one match in her first two seasons of eligilibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic her first year and injuries the next. Weber returned last season with a vengeance, playing in every match.
This season she looks to use her experience, energy and work ethic to be an effective leader on and off the sand.
Before her sophomore season began, Weber got into a car accident that not only injured her physically, but also damaged her mental health, something crucial in all sports, including collegiate-level beach volleyball. She said she relied on her faith to pull through each challenge.
"So I believe that God had me here for a purpose and I wanted to play that out," Weber said. "I wanted to run that course and so I kept working hard. I did my rehab and I knew that it was going to be a long road to have to prove myself and prove that I deserved to travel and to have a spot as a starter.”
After recovering from her injuries, Weber knew she had many things to work on before returning. She said she knew she would have to train both mentally and physically to overcome the adversity that came with the injury that she sustained from the accident.
Weber's mentality and drive to fight through these challenges came from her upbringing, as she credits her work ethic to her parents. Her father, Mark Weber, knows college athletics well, as he played football at the University of Texas.
"I haven't always been the tallest, I haven't always been the fastest and strongest." Weber said. "But I think I've always tried to be one who works the hardest. I think that came from my parents as well. My dad was a college athlete and my mom was an athlete, and they always raised me to know that work ethic is the most important thing because maybe if you can't outperform someone, you can sure outwork them."
This work ethic and the mentality Weber has is something that is seen by both the players around her and her coach. First-year Sun Devil beach volleyball coach Kristen Rohr said she noticed Weber’s work ethic and energy. It was one of the reasons why Rohr attempted to recruit Weber to play at GCU, when Rohr was the head coach of the Lopes beach volleyball team.
"She's always a super hard worker," Rohr said. "She's pushing her teammates to be better, she wants to be the best version of herself in everything she does and it's really evident in practice, in the weight room and conditioning.'
Overcoming her injury took more than just hard work and physical training. Weber said she needed to get back to a place mentally where she could get back out on the sand again.
"I've trained my mental game a lot since my freshman year," Weber said. "Thanks to the help of our sports psychs here and our coaches. And so I think dialing in my mental game has been a pivotal point."
Weber said she knew how important it would be to be in her best space mentally as she described beach volleyball as a sport that requires a good bit of mental toughness.
She said that when she grew up playing indoor volleyball, she understood that if she made a mistake she could get subbed out until she could reset then go back on the court. However, in beach volleyball, no players get subbed out and it’s just two players on the sand from each team at a time. Brushing off mistakes quickly is more critical to success on the sand.
Through the process of recovering physically and mentally, Weber grew into the leader she is today. The energy that Weber plays with is infectious to her coaches and her teammates. Rylie Kael, Weber’s teammate and roommate, who described Weber as a person with a great sports mentality.
Besides the energy that Weber brings to each match, her experiences also made her a better leader to her teammates in training. This can be seen in the weight room when Weber is pushing teammates to train harder or on the sand when she tries to get the best out of every player on the team.
"I feel like there's not a lot of people that are willing to be vocal and Ivey has no shame and she just wants what's best for the team." Kael said. "So it's good having someone that is willing to be vocal and is willing to hold her teammates accountable."
Weber said she has hope in this team's ability to make it to Gulf Shores, Alabama — the location of the NCAA Tournament. She hopes to leave a mark on the younger athletes on the team and on the program as a whole.
"I feel like I can always count on her to bring the energy and like I know she's going to try her hardest." Kael said, "Like, she's not just going to go out and, you know, not give it her all."
Edited by Alfred Smith III, Shane Brennan and Grace Copperthite.