Gator Beach Volleyball Player Natalia Piferrer

Name: Natalia Piferrer
Age: 21
Year: Junior
Major: Public relations
Minor: Communication studies

Her Campus: For how long have you been playing beach volleyball, and did you start playing beach or indoor?
Natalia Piferrer: “I started playing indoor volleyball when I was in sixth grade and immediately fell in love with the sport. I played all the way up until my senior year of high school when I played primarily as a libero and as a setter when my team needed me to fill the position. During high school, my best friend and I always went to the lake to hang out and play beach volleyball. We didn’t play 2 v. 2; we just messed around. Then we came across some guys who actually played competitively. They quickly befriended us and taught us how to play 4 v. 4, and as we got better, we started playing 2 v. 2. At that moment, indoor volleyball became a thing of the past for me. I officially started playing regulation beach volleyball during my junior year. In college, however, there have been gaps between playing at the competitive level and playing just for practice due to my repetitive shoulder injury.”  

HC: What position do you currently play on the Gator Beach Volleyball Club team?  
NP: “I play on the A-team for the club, but unfortunately due to my shoulder injury I was mostly the team’s cheerleader for the tournaments. However, I was the social chair for the club team this semester. I helped organize fun events and activities so the team could bond off the court.”

HC: How often do you compete in tournaments with other college beach volleyball teams?
NP: “Since our club is brand new, along with many other club teams from other universities, we only had two college beach volleyball tournaments. However, we travel together as a team to play tournaments with teams from all over the state. These teams aren’t always college teams, but they consist of players who have played competitively at higher levels. Before my injury, I loved competing every weekend.”

HC: Which teams are your toughest competitors at the moment?
NP: “I would say Florida State is our toughest competition for college club teams, just because it has a Division 1 team, and its club team has been established longer than ours has. But regardless, we have some amazing players here at UF who have won tournaments in many different divisions, so we are definitely a team to watch out for in my opinion.”

HC: What is the most exciting part about representing UF on the club team?
NP: “I know I speak for everyone when I say that we are all proud to be a part of the Gator Nation, and now that we have the opportunity to represent UF across all the Florida beaches as the UF Beach Volleyball Club is amazing. We are all so passionate about the sport and the lifestyle that comes along with it. It’s extremely exciting to see a group of people competing under UF’s name. Before, we were just individuals competing on any given beach, but now we have more reason to compete. We are competing for our school — the Gator Nation. When we win or if we lose, we know that we’re giving it our all to be the best players we can be and to help bring the world of beach volleyball to Gainesville.”

HC: How united is the team both on and off the court?
NP: “On the court, we are the loudest, funniest and craziest team you’ll find on the beach. We’re always yelling at each other, or being silly or just being crazy odd. I would say we are very united as a team on the beach. Off the court, we’re still a tight group. Most of us have known each other for years. I’ve actually competed in indoor volleyball against many of the girls I now play alongside. Our lives outside of beach volleyball do conflict, but we always find something fun to bring us all back together. This past spring break, many of the team members actually went to Costa Rica together. Many of us are roommates, and I’m actually traveling to Greece with one of my teammates, where we’ll be competing in a volleyball tournament. We always find ways to bond because we all share the same passion and lifestyle, and if you see us around I guarantee you’ll notice that.”

HC: What has been your most memorable moment on the team?
NP: “It’s hard to say since our team is so new, but there is one thing that has stood out to me more than anything else. I will never forget something a team member told me. He told me that because of this team, his entire life has changed. He saw himself becoming a better human being and becoming happy in daily life because he had something to look forward to every day. He was surrounded by people who pushed him to become better both on and off the court. This past weekend, that same person won the AA tournament, and the excitement he had was just amazing. For me, it’s hard to pinpoint the most memorable moment because moments like these happen so frequently. We just put them in a memory bank so that we can share them with our group, while sharing smiles and laughs on the beach.”

Photo Courtesy of Natalia Piferrer