So you wish to become a professional volleyball player down the road? Take a few hints from Penn State assistant men's volleyball coach Colin McMillan.
In 1991, McMillan was a 5-foot-8 freshman looking to play a spring sport at Libertyville High School.
"I didn't make the basketball team,'' he said. "I had played a lot of different sports and I was going to try and play tennis."
Then he wandered over to the gym to view the new sport called boys volleyball.
"I wasn't the biggest kid in the gym,'' he said. "But I really liked playing. I really didn't think it would take me places."
McMillan took to the game of volleyball. He would go and play this sport in Portugal, France, Russia, Italy, Turkey and Puerto Rico.
"He once sent an email from a sidewalk cafe on France,'' said former Libertyville volleyball coach Steve Rochon. "Here he was in his middle 20s, playing
professional VB and watching French women go by while having coffee. That dude was living my life."
From Libertyville To Touring The World
How could a 5-foot-8 volleyball player make it so big in the world of professional volleyball?
By his junior year, his father took a job in Iowa and off he went. He was playing club ball in Iowa. He also was growing. By this time, he stood 6-foot-6.
"I was literally growing two to three inches a year,'' he said.
McMillan played his senior year back at Libertyville. By this time, he was up to 6-foot-9, and college volleyball programs began to take notice.
"I went to Ohio State,'' he said. "I was 6-9, 175-pounds. I redshirted to get some strength. I got some playing time my sophomore year."
By 2000, the Libertyville graduate was playing in the NCAA national championship.
"We lost to UCLA,'' he said. "We felt we were a pretty good team."
Makes Mark In Record Book
It seems McMillan really grew as a volleyball player as well. He is still in the Ohio State record book as the leader in hitting percentage (.481), assist blocks (473) and total blocks (548).
Maybe the highlight of his playing days came as a member of the U.S. team that captured gold at the World University games in Beijing, China, in 2001.
"That was a team of 16 to 17 guys who had never played together,'' he said. "We went to tournaments in France, Russia and Italy."
After college graduation, McMillan felt it was time to look for a job. Instead, he earned some cash playing his favorite sport in Puerto Rico.
"That was a blast,'' he said. "Only once did we play a little defensively up in the hills of San Sebastian."
He spent nearly five seasons playing middle (now 6-foot-11) for a team in Istanbul, Turkey.
"We were playing all day long,'' he said.
Finds Home At Penn State
When his playing days came to end, McMillan was glad to accept his post at Penn State.
"It was an opportunity that came my way,'' he said. "Not everybody gets to do what they want to. I'm so happy with my job at Penn State. I walked into a good situation."
He still recalls the help he received at Libertyville.
"Without coach Rochon, I wouldn't have gone to Ohio State,'' he said.