ARIMO – When Marissa Frazier received an invitation to visit a college campus in February, the aspiring college volleyball player quickly accepted.
Two days later, Frazier arrived at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California, to meet the school’s head volleyball coach who asked her to come.
“I just got super excited and was like I have no other time to do this, except for this weekend. And my mom was like, ‘Let’s just go for it,’” said the Marsh Valley High School senior. “On the way down there, I was just super nervous.”
The 13-hour drive was fruitful for Frazier, who was offered a roster spot during the trip.
She signed her National Letter of Intent on Wednesday at Marsh Valley High School to play volleyball for Saddleback College, which she said felt like home.
It was a long road to her goal in more ways than one.
Frazier suffered a concussion at the end of her freshman year that dogs her to this day, but was especially cumbersome in the first two years after it happened. The problem was made worse because she’s experienced multiple brain injuries over her lifetime.
She suffered headaches, had to alter her study habits and take more time to do coursework in school until she recovered. On the court, she still has to deal with sharp neck pain occasionally.
She skipped her junior volleyball season, but not because of concussion symptoms. After spending two years at Century High School, she said a change of scenery was needed. She was homeschooled before enrolling at Marsh Valley in the middle of her junior year, so she only played club volleyball during that juncture.
Frazier said the break from high school volleyball rejuvenated her, and her passion for the sport was restored.
When she joined the Marsh Valley volleyball team for her senior season, she found a welcoming family environment.
“We were just super supportive of each other on and off the court,” Frazier said. “It was just super nice to have that family aspect while playing volleyball and being on a team.”
Frazier compiled 141 digs, 101 kills and 44 aces in her final high school season.
“It was the best season I really ever had,” Frazier said. “I felt like getting out of my head and not getting down on myself was a huge thing I got so much better at this year.”
Saddleback head volleyball coach Brian Hughes scouted her in Las Vegas. Within a week, he asked her to come to California for the campus visit and she arrived on Feb. 21.
Hughes’ team is coming off a 10-14 season. The 5-year Saddleback head coach had his best season in 2016, when a 16-8 record was tallied by his California Community College Athletic Association team.
“We talked about how he thinks it’s huge to be mentally there and to obviously not get down on yourselves and pull each other up,” Frazier said. “Skill-wise, he coaches you to the best of your ability and he puts you in places where he thinks you benefit the most and he just talked about how he doesn’t like to get angry because angry doesn’t help anything.”
If she’s being honest, she is as excited about living in California as much as anything the school has to offer as she said she has dreamed of living in the Golden State.
Living in California means leaving her support system that helped her battle high school adversity, but she said she developed ways of coping with stress. One way is playing volleyball, which is bringing her to California.
“It’s kind of just been something I’ve relied on to help me get through really, really hard times,” Frazier said. “When I’m on the court, I focus so much about just volleyball and I just forget about all my problems.”