Being a collegiate student-athlete requires drive, commitment and dedication. Charlotte's athletic department seeks the best of the best to represent the University with a gold standard. The volleyball team added a great edition with freshman Emani' Foster.
Foster, who plays outside hitter for Charlotte, has been a crucial piece to Charlotte's volleyball team in 2021. In just her first year, Foster has been awarded Conference USA Freshman of the Week four times in a row this season and won the American Volleyball Coaches Association national player of the week on Feb. 3 after after posting a match-high 22 kills at Clemson in the first game. In the second game, Foster had 20 kills in the win.
The journey to becoming a 49er athlete has not been easy. It has taken years of practice, shedding blood, sweat and tears. Foster has been preparing for this moment for the last nine years. At just nine years old, she knew volleyball was going to become her sport. Her mom encouraged her to play in high school, and she agreed as volleyball "felt so natural to play."
In her commitment to excellence, Foster thrived, playing in club volleyball and at the higher levels. It was at the age of 14 that Foster knew she wanted to play in college.
"I enjoyed the pace of the game and the competition the longer I played," said Foster. "It brings me so much joy."
Not letting anything get in her way of reaching that next level, Foster pushed past the boundaries and overcame a stress fracture in high school.
"Being on crutches for a few weeks was hard, but I knew once I recovered, I would have to get right back in that gym and work my way back up," said Foster. "I was not going to let myself lose anything," said Foster.
Foster's hard work paid off when she began touring colleges on official visits. Although it all seemed great, there was something different about Charlotte that stood out to Foster. Not only did she love the campus, but it was the coaches that made it special.
"The coaches were so welcoming, and they made it feel as if I was going to become a part of a big family here," said Foster.
Once making it official and joining Charlotte, the hard work began. Foster and the volleyball team practiced together Monday through Saturday, played matches on Sundays and Mondays, and watched hours of film to scout the other teams.
The daily grind never ends for student-athletes as it requires a lot of hard work. Her biggest advice is to work on time management. Planning it all out helps to balance school work, training and relaxation time.
"It's a challenge, but such a good time," said Foster. "Learning overtime to space stuff out is the key."
Being a student-athlete means the world to Foster. She loves being able to represent the school and the athletic department positively. The volleyball team has such a strong bond, and their values they hold for the school are fundamental to share with everyone.
Foster's offseason work has translated on the court as the team has five wins under their belt, beating Davidson, Clemson and Marshall. The 49ers also swept Florida International on Feb. 15
These victories have a lot to do with Foster's performances, who leads the team in almost every statistical category as a freshman. Through seven games, Foster has earned 129 kills and 152.5 points.
The team has looked strong in the early part of the season, and Foster is excited to grow along with the team. The next four years ahead are looking up, and the team has supported her as much as possible.
"This team means so much to me," said Foster. "I love that we all have the common goal to work together and perform to the best of our abilities for our school."
Her biggest attribute to the team is the level of comfort to turn to in lifting each other up. The coaches have helped guide her by being super supportive of her individually and her goals here at Charlotte. Foster said the coaches have given great advice and keep the athlete's fundamentals up to par.
For the next four years, Foster has some solid goals working on this team. She wants to help the team succeed by supporting each other every step of the way.
"I hope my volleyball skills keep growing even further past college," said Foster. "I would love to keep up with it, and I truly believe that Charlotte is the best place to help set me up long term in this sport."