Mackenzie Long draws life lessons from volleyball

Three years ago, junior defensive specialist Mackenzie Long was surrounded by a plethora of cornfields and farmland in the small town of Walworth, Wisconsin, home to approximately 1,000 people. Now, she is one of SLU volleyball’s top players playing under the lights in Chaifetz Pavilion in the fall.

Long grew up with volleyball in every aspect of her life. “I started playing volleyball when I was four years old,” she said. “My dad played and was a coach at my high school.” She committed to the sport on a more competitive level at the age of nine, and has not looked back since.

She was drawn to SLU right away because of the atmosphere that she experienced upon visiting. “I loved the coaches and how close all the student-athletes were to one another,” Long said. “As a school, SLU allowed so many opportunities for my education and was able to work with me and my schedule.”

Currently, Long is pursuing a degree in sports business and dreams of working with the Chicago Blackhawks. “If that doesn’t work out, I want to coach college volleyball at the Division I level,” she said.

On the court, Long is nothing short of impactful. She made waves in her first year, quickly settling into the role of the Billikens’ starting libero. She led the team in aces with 34 and had a total of 238 digs on the 2014 season. In 2015, she showed her dedication to improving Volleyball: 2-0 in A-10 Washington was SLU’s proclivity for pulling out close two-point wins in sets.

This season, she already has 241 digs, along with 11 service aces. She earned A-10 Conference Player of the Week for Sept. 19-25 with an impressive performance against Western Illinois, tallying 32 digs, the season high for the A-10.

Now that the squad is heading into conference play, they are looking to turn around their shaky non-conference season, which may have been one of their toughest yet. “We did have a tough non-conference season, but it has prepared us well. We learned a lot about our team and different things that can help us be successful,” Long said. “I am very excited to start conference, and I have confidence in my team that we will have a great season.”

While she has a very passionate drive for volleyball, another love of hers is her family. “I am an only child, so my parents are my everything,” she said. “I have a very close relationship with my parents, and having them support me with everything I do is amazing.”

Being so far from home, she thinks of her team as a second family. “SLU volleyball is my home away from home. I have met some amazing people that make being away from home not so bad,” she said. “I take pride in wearing SLU volleyball across my shirt or on the back of my jersey.”

Long knows that SLU volleyball will touch her life in more ways than one, especially when she graduates in two years. “I love meeting so many different people and creating life-long friendships with everyone,” she said. “It’s cool being around people who have the same interests as you and who work their butts off to play the sport we love. Being on the SLU volleyball team, I learn things that will help me when I am no longer an athlete. I learn so many different things in a day that will only help me when I have a job, a family, and many other things in life.