Being the daughter of an eight-time All-Star in Major League Baseball, senior volleyball player Jade Strawberry has always had an example to follow in sports. But now she is setting her own example.
Jade’s father, Darryl, played in the majors for 17 seasons with the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and New York Yankees. Along the way, he won four World Series titles and was 1983 National League Rookie of the Year.
“My father has always been a huge part of my life; he has influenced me in many ways,” says Strawberry. “He influences me every day with the way he pushes me to be better. He pushes me to be the best in my sport, and also in school.”
Coming off a junior season where she was named to the All-American Athletic Conference Second Team, Strawberry looks at her final season with UConn as a great opportunity.
The Huskies (7-1) are off to a strong start, following the Syracuse Invitational, LSU Tiger Classic, and Dog Pound Challenge – and Strawberry has been right in the middle of it all.
UConn’s most aggressive attacker, Strawberry is one of four seniors who went through the coaching transition when head coach Kris Grunwald took the helm in 2014. Since then, the Huskies have seen improvement every season.
“This team has great potential for 2016,” says Strawberry. “We just have to get after it every day, including practices and games, and not wait to see what happens.”
A native of Tallahassee, Fla., she returns as the only All-Conference player, after recording a team-high 350 kills in the 2015 season. Strawberry averaged 2.94 kills per set, and had a team-best 27 service aces.
Despite her on-court prowess, Strawberry is not as much a vocal leader as she is a leader by example, which is how she plans to approach her final season in Storrs. Along with seniors Rebecca Rivera, Hayley Cmajdalka, and Camille Evans, she provides four years of playing and college experience.
Strawberry has been a major reason for the Huskies winning seven of their first eight matches, as she is currently second on the team in kills (79) and digs (65). She believes the team’s success is due to a lot of versatility.
“One strength for our team is how dynamic we are,” she says. “We have many different people who can play many different positions, which is big for us.”
Despite being focused on volleyball and school work, Strawberry has been thinking about her post-graduation plans – and heading home.
“I will most likely move back to Florida where my family lives, and either start working or potentially go to grad school,” says Strawberry, a human development and family studies major.
The Huskies return to action this weekend in the Army Invitational to play Albany and Army on Friday, Sept. 16, as well as St. John’s on Saturday, Sept. 17.