Student Story
16 December 2019

Volleyball Professional Strikes the Perfect Balance at the Institute

Cait DeWitt, from Casper, Wyoming, USA, earned a full scholarship to play volleyball at a Division 1 university (the highest level of intercollegiate athletics in the United States) in Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount. However, in order to continue playing at a professional level after finishing her undergraduate studies, Cait had to look to Europe. As she works towards her Master in International History at the Graduate Institute, she continues to pursue professional volleyball, while preparing for a career in a different kind of court.

In the US, playing volleyball at a professional level and continuing education beyond a bachelor’s degree does not exist in the same capacity as it does in Europe; in fact, it doesn’t exist at all. Moving to Europe is the only option Americans have to pursue volleyball at a level beyond college. Therefore, in the fall of 2018 I began my studies at the Institute while also playing volleyball for Genève Volley

The Graduate Institute has given me the opportunity to pursue volleyball while also working on developing a professional career. As this season is likely to be my last before I move back to the United States (numerous injuries are taking their toll), a master’s degree from the Graduate Institute will provide me with an advantage when I apply to law schools. The impressive repertoire of professors here has given me interesting and new perspectives, and studying in Europe has shown me new ways of thinking. In addition, my peers have challenged and shaped my own ideas about the world, and the demanding courses have sharpened the skills I will need to be successful after graduating. 

While I am still able to play volleyball, however, my team has made great progress: we have moved up a league, expanded our roster to five professionals and are competing against other entirely professional teams in Switzerland – we currently play in the National League A, Switzerland’s top division. 

At the same time, playing against entirely professional teams isn’t easy – we face gender discrimination in Geneva and we face strong opponents throughout Switzerland. Another challenge is getting people to come to our games and receiving the same funding as professional men’s teams in Geneva. Despite this, we remain committed to winning more games and getting more sponsors. We want Geneva to know that women’s sports are strong and entertaining.

For the moment, juggling school, volleyball and work all at the same time is demanding, but I can’t imagine living my life any other way! 

keywords: international history