Q&A with volleyball player, Junior Olympics competitor Izzy Jeffery


Photo credit: Madison Witt

Junior Izzy Jeffery holds hands with her teammate Kennedy Schultz (’23) during a match in the 2021-2022 season. Jeffery has played volleyball for eight years with little league, club and school teams, loving the sport’s energy and intensity throughout.

By Allie Yang, Columnist

Since junior Izzy Jeffery was 9 years old, she has played volleyball for multiple teams, including little league, club and school-affiliated teams. Most recently, her club team, the Mizuno Long Beach Volleyball Club, qualified in Reno for the 2023 Junior Olympics, which will take place in Chicago June 28-July 6.

This year will be her fourth time competing as a middle blocker. The Oracle sat down with Jeffery to discuss her perspective on playing in the Junior Olympics as well as her overall progression with volleyball.

Did you choose to be a middle blocker? If so, how?

Izzy Jeffery [IJ]: I chose to play middle blocker. Everybody suggested it when I was younger because I was taller back then … Getting a block is so refreshing. It’s really satisfying, and being able to hit fast attacks is really fun. You have to be focused when it comes to figuring out where the ball is going and figuring out where you’re going to block. It’s hard to accept you won’t get to every single block. As a perfectionist, it’s a little disheartening.

As far as perfectionism goes, what role has it played in your volleyball journey?

[IJ]: There have been times [of] self-doubt: Do I even want to be on this volleyball team anymore? Am I still good enough for this? There was a lot of questioning. There are a lot of times [when] I would get down on myself. This year, I’ve been really good with positive self-talk, which is keeping me going.

Is there anyone who has shaped your volleyball journey in particular?

[IJ]: Even though she has never played in her life, my mom has been such a huge cheerleader. She always encourages me to keep going, even when times get really, really rough. During my 15s year, I got injured twice. I had a torn ligament in my pinky, and then two weeks after, I sprained my ankle. That was a really upsetting time for me, and I was worried about playing time, but my mom was there to comfort me and tell me everything was okay.

Does the dynamic differ from Archer’s team to your club’s?

[IJ]: It honestly doesn’t. The energy wherever you go when you’re playing volleyball is always high. Even if I’m at a camp and don’t know specific people or I’m playing with a completely new team, they’ll still cheer me on the same. The volleyball community in general is such a positive environment.

What is it about volleyball that is able to bring people together?

[IJ]: Volleyball is a team sport. It takes more than one person and a lot of communication. Seeing all your hard work pay off is refreshing. I don’t know specifically why the whole community has such a hugely positive attitude, but seeing girls who are older than me slamming the ball down gets me pumped up and excited. I’m in awe of them.

What’s your favorite part about the Junior Olympics?

[IJ]: Seeing different types of competition floating around. It’s really interesting to see different techniques from different clubs and places. My favorite team to play is Puerto Rico because they have a lot of energy, and we have a lot of energy. We played them a lot during the Junior Olympics, and it’s really fun to compete with them.

From your experience throughout the Junior Olympics, were there any highlights or challenges?

[IJ]: Highlights [were] my team having my back. It’s really comforting and fun if I score points and everyone’s cheering for me. The energy is always high, so I always look forward to playing. Some challenges are when I was younger, I didn’t get much playing time. It was hard to sit on the bench, but this year there’s only been two middles. Honestly, there’s going to be rough times and good times. I’m just glad I’m playing.