More a Knight Than a Squire

Phuc Pham | New University

Aly Squires, a third-year outside hitter for UC Irvine’s women’s volleyball team, is an essential player to the squad.

“I’ve been around sports my whole life,” said Squires. “I fell into volleyball and loved it.”

Squires was born and raised in an athletic environment: her mother is a former volleyball coach and her father a former basketball, football and golf coach. Before she became an Anteater, she ran track and field and played volleyball all four years for Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.

Before completely dedicating herself to volleyball, Squires had a passion for horses and learned to ride competitively. Although this may seem a lot different from her current passion, Squires shares that her experiences riding actually helped her in volleyball.

“In riding, you have to be on level with your emotions,” said Squires. “You have to learn to pick yourself up when you fall.”

Squires’ previous experiences have prepared her well to be a skilled Anteater. Having toured other universities from Oregon to Arizona, Squires ultimately decided that UCI was where she wanted to further both her education and volleyball career.

“I came to visit the campus and meet the girls [on the team] and academic advisors and it just clicked,” said Squires.

Now a sociology major and an education minor, between classes and volleyball commitments, she is still able to dedicate time to the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) and Athletes in Action (AIA).

SAAC is an organization that gives a voice to the athletes on campus and helps raise money for charities. Most recently, SAAC has been competitive in the Big West Coin Drive. Athletes compete against other schools in their conference to raise money for charity. Squires shares that they even go to the Greeks on campus for donations, because the athletes would like to get more people informed and involved with the sports on campus.

When it comes to AIA, Squires enjoys the organization’s focus on religion.  AIA is a place for athletes to meet, discuss and share biblical principles that relate back to their personal experiences. This community is a great place for busy athletes, with the stresses of school and sports-related pressures where the student athletes can  “give it to God.” Squires wears a cross around her neck – a constant reminder of her faith.

Already with a busy schedule, the third-year  expressed interest in looking into more clubs on campus.

“It would be really fun to get more involved,” said Squires, modest about her immense involvement already.

Even though Squires has a lot of commitments and expresses interest in potentially taking on more, she is actively participating in the advice her parents gave her: “School first.”

Phuc Pham | New University

When asked what she will be doing in the off season, Squires shares that she will be preparing to take the CBEST. Among her many interests, potentially becoming a history teacher one day is one of them. Even with this in mind,  the talented outside hitter still shows a great interest in pursuing volleyball after college, entertaining the idea of one day playing overseas in Europe and even possibly being a part of an Olympic team.

It would not be surprising if this Anteater were to compete on a national level, since she is being coached by a former olympic medalist and coach, Paula Weishoff. Squires shares that the team uses the same system as the US Olympic team.

“The girls are hard workers,” said Squires. “We are strong because we work hard. It’s awesome to be part of a team where everybody comes in and wants to get better.”

Squires shares that not only does she spend time with her teammates during practice and games, she even lives with a few off campus in Newport Beach. The team appears to be close and very committed to working together in more than one aspect of their lives.

As the lead hitter on the Irvine squad when it comes to points, one wonders what the standout’s secret might be.  The grounded athlete shares a piece of advice that stands out in her mind: appreciate what you have. Squires tries to appreciate every moment and take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead.

“If you’re not having fun while you’re doing it, then what’s the point?” Squires asked.

Her optimism and commitment is an inspiration not only to those of us outside the athletic world, but those on her team too. With dedication like Squires’, it’s no wonder that she’s at the top of her game.