Volleyball Spotlight Feature-Channing Salava
At birth, life is unscripted. No one knows for certain where he or she will go or what he or she will become. Life is an unfinished story, an unwritten book. For most of us, as we go through life, we begin to make plans and set a path for ourselves, determining our future several years in advance. But, what if, instead of talking about where we want to be ten years from now, we adopted a mantra of "que sera, sera," or "whatever will be, will be"? Letting the chips fall where they may is a real way of life for Channing Salava. The junior setter from Clearwater, Fla., isn't sure what her future holds. The one thing she is sure of is that she's ready for whatever comes her way and that she's looking forward to whatever God decides to send her.
"I'm thinking that I want to go into the Peace Corps after I graduate, and I know that's a two-year commitment," Salava said. "Other than that, whatever God brings my way (I'm fine with). That's why my majors are so broad. I'm interested in a lot of things, so whatever comes my way is great. With the Peace Corps, once you go through the application process, they send you somewhere, and you have to be open to going anywhere. What I love about the Peace Corps is that it's total abandonment. You pick up, and you're gone for two years, and I think that could be an amazing experience."
Salava came to Belmont because of the people. A welcoming embrace drew her to the school and a place on the volleyball team. Added bonuses were the numerous ground-breaking programs offered and the strong academic programs available. Salava has taken advantage of the academic side of Belmont, majoring in communication studies and minoring in Spanish and journalism. Her course load this year should help her prepare for study abroad trips to Guatemala and Spain.
"Now that I'm a junior, I'm in a higher level of each of my courses, so I'm really able to get in depth with my major and minors, which is really cool," Salava said. "You can draw from every aspect of the class an applicable job that goes with it. My two favorite classes are probably my Spanish class, which is really cool because it's an immersion class, so we speak nothing but Spanish, and we learn the culture and stuff. I'm going to get to study abroad this year, so I'm really pushing hard in these classes to learn everything I can. My persuasion class, which is a speech class, is another of my favorites. It's Aristotle's ways of persuasion theory and it's really cool to learn how to persuade an audience of different types."
While classes and practices are a large part of Salava's life at Belmont, they aren't the only parts. Finding ways to relax and finding time for herself isn't always easy but is something Salava tries to do whenever possible.
"I play the guitar a little bit," she said. "I love to go and worship at a bunch of different places. I love writing. I'll write all the time, and I think I get more out of writing than I do music because I don't really play that much music. Writing is a kind of release that you don't get with sports or exercising or anything like that. It's an emotional recovery. I love to write anything and everything. I like short stories, I write poems and songs, even though I can't play them."
As a junior, Salava has learned to balance academics and athletics. Finding herself in a new role on the team this season, Salava has taken the change in stride, determined to fill whatever role is needed.
"I think I'm needed in a different role on the team than in the past two years," she said. "I think my role is more of encouraging others to get to their next levels and pushing them. Pushing Hannah (Miranda) (the other setter on the team) and helping Hannah get better, I think that's really an important role for me, and I'm totally fine with that, just whatever my role needed to be. If I can help Hannah or another person get better on the team, then I'm all for that."
Fewer matches played this season doesn't diminish the enormous success Salava has had at Belmont. The 2008 Freshman of the Year in the Atlantic Sun and a 2009 Second Team All-Conference Selection, Salava has accumulated over 2,500 set assists. Recognition for her hard work is one of Salava's favorite Belmont memories.
"I won Freshman of the Year my freshman year, and that was amazing and completely unexpected," she said. "I didn't even know that was an award. Coach called me in and he was like, 'Congratulations!' and I didn't know what he was congratulating me for. I think my freshman year. I was really just trucking through and not really looking around and at the end, to be rewarded for that, it was a great honor."
Achieving such high standards hasn't come easily for Salava. Extremely close to her family, especially her sister, Kelsey, it was sometimes difficult to make the transition to college life so far from home.
"I think the changes that everyone goes through in college (have been the hardest to overcome)," Salava said. "Emotional, mental…everything changing and being so far away from home and not having the support system that I was used to with the great family connection I had. Going in a whirlwind and not really having a foundation was hard. Now, being a junior and a little wiser, my relationship with my sister is much stronger, and I really lean on her."
Salava knows full well that her successes, while a reflection of her own hard work, are gifts she is grateful to have received. These blessings have made her compassionate for those who are not as fortunate. A consummate student, Salava loves to learn and revels in the opportunity to be taught by someone else. It's her humility and natural curiosity that define who she is.
"I'm very compassionate," Salava said. "I'm compassionate for people in other countries who have less than me. I'm thankful for everything that I have and everything that I've gotten and I know that it's not mine forever, that it's just temporary. I'm eager to learn, eager to be humbled in all aspects--- volleyball, scholastically, and in life. I love it when people know more than me and they teach it to me. I welcome that. I'm curious to learn new things, see different things, travel the world, to learn what I don't know."
Being open-minded is a trait Salava is proud of and is a legacy she hopes to pass on to all she meets.
"I want people to walk away knowing that I'm understanding," she said. "I try not to judge at all. I'm accepting of everyone, no matter who you are or where you come from. I don't see materialistic things."
Her openness and compassion will ultimately help Salava write her own story, a story where volleyball and Belmont are only chapters and where the ending remains unwritten, waiting until she finishes writing her own story.