GROWING UP IN JAPAN, Katie Rohrer ’18 had limited volleyball experience. She wasn’t even considering pursuing the sport in college.
However, after visiting Wheaton College, coach Brittany Smith encouraged her to apply. Katie sent in a clip of her plays and was offered a spot on the team. After that, things seemed to fall into place.
But her freshman year was far from easy. The elementary education major felt like she was learning a new sport. The terminology, technique, and strategies were different than in Japan. With daily trainings, games and tournaments, Katie was challenged both physically and mentally.
“I often questioned why I was on the team. I felt like I didn’t know anything. However, my teammates and coaches constantly reminded me I was there for a purpose,” said Katie. “I was blown away by the immediate love and intentionality I found.”
When her younger sister was hospitalized for three months, Katie agonized over being so far from her family. After learning her sister needed a liver transplant, Katie’s sophomore year was “full of uncertainties, waiting, and risks.”
But her team and the Wheaton community rallied around her, writing letters and offering prayer. Coach Smith helped find funds that paid for a spring break flight home. When the Rohrer family’s insurance didn’t cover the transplant, Wheaton friends set up a GoFundMe campaign and donated toward the cause.
“Whether it be in the community that took care of me throughout my sister’s illness or in having donors who helped me pay for college, God has shown up at Wheaton in incredible ways I would have never expected or imagined,” said Katie.
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