Wheeling, W.Va. – The philosopher Marc Anthony once said: “If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life.” Former Wheeling Volleyball player Alexa Goff had a passion for the sport of Volleyball and carried that passion to the 2015 NCAA Division II National Championship. This passion for volleyball brought her to the classroom at the local Olentangy School District in Lewis Center, Ohio, where she teaches fifth grade.
“As a teacher, I sincerely believe that your children will work for you if they know they are loved and respected,” Goff said. “Christy (Benner) has really cared for us and set us up for success on and off the volleyball court. It’s created real community and love within our team and that’s something I look for in my own team and in the classroom.”
Passion has driven Goff throughout his life and sport has always been part of that passion from an early age. As Goff continued to grow, the two sports that took center stage were volleyball and basketball. His dad had played basketball in college, and it was some quality bonding time for Goff and his dad. On the other hand, Goff excelled on the volleyball court, playing throughout his middle and high school years at St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus.
However, as she approached her senior year, she had a decision to make about which sport she would pursue at the next level. It was a tough decision, but ultimately it was volleyball that would win out and ultimately lead her to the University of Wheeling.
“It was a tough decision to only play volleyball,” Goff said. “My dad had played basketball in college and we kind of shared a connection to basketball. I ended up not playing basketball my senior year of high school because with the traveling volleyball and the basketball at school, I used to get really sick in the winter because my body could It was a really tough decision to make, but I’m glad I made it.
It was this decision that brought her to Wheeling University and helped her win a national championship. Her first impressions on campus came when she visited former teammate Gabby Guanciale for a game and an overnight visit. She remembers both the beauty of the campus and the diligent support for volleyball as two of the main factors in her decision to call Wheeling home.
“I thought it was a beautiful campus, Wheeling in the fall is beautiful,” Goff said. “I thought it was smaller, but I didn’t realize how small it was. There was just a lot of activity, a lot of fans supporting the volleyball and people walking around enjoying of their weekend. That’s kind of what attracted me and closed the deal.”
During the initial transition to college volleyball, Goff had to adjust to a new team. She was one of the leaders at St. Francis DeSales, but now she was playing with the best of the best in high school and took an adjustment period. One of the things that helped her through this transition was her head coach. Christy Bener. Benner has led the Wheeling Volleyball program for the past 21 seasons and while she asks a lot of her athletes, she also makes it a point to show them care and compassion off the court.
It was this compassion that not only helped make the transition to college smoother for Goff, but also helped bring much of the team’s success.
“We were so lucky to have Christy (Benner) and Matt (Benner) as our assistants,” Goff said. “She really cared about us as people and wanted us to be successful in life, not just on the volleyball court. She knew the lessons we learned in volleyball would transfer into real life. She would hold meetings and just check in on you and make sure you are okay She took care of the whole person not just the volleyball player and it really created a community within our team .
During his four seasons with the Wheeling Volleyball team, the Cardinals enjoyed great success leading up to the national championship during his senior season. The Cardinals played in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) in its freshman year and won the WVIAC title while appearing in the national championship tournament. Then, when they transitioned to the Mountain East Conference (MEC) in 2013, the success continued and they made two more National Championship races.
However, her teams would not have been as successful without the players who came before her. Goff credits his senior teammates in his freshman year for helping create a winning culture for the Cardinals program.
“I really thank the players who came before me because they were the ones who created that feeling of victory,” Goff said. “When you’re used to winning and used to being excited to play and playing for each other, it really creates a culture in your program that can last for years, and it does. When you’re used to that feeling of victory, there’s no Nerves go into games and there’s no doubt You trust your teammates and you’re excited to be there This was created before I is happening there, and you could feel it when you walked into spring training.
It all came to a head in the 2015 season when Wheeling won the first national championship in program history and school history. The Cardinals set the program’s single-season winning record that year, going 39-4 and nearly swept the national tournament, winning nine of the 10 sets they contested. They ended the run with a 3-0 sweep of Palm Beach Atlantic University to end what was a magical run.
Goff remembers running as a business-as-usual mentality. The 2015 Cardinals were a tight-knit team, and they knew how to come in, do their job, and leave without any of the added drama that sometimes surrounds athletics.
“We were a very tight-knit team,” Goff said. “We had great chemistry and we knew what our job was in the team. All year round we were showing up and taking care of business and there was no extra. Every game we won in the tournament looked more and more like ‘we can do this.’ Winning your last match is a huge deal. Few athletes can say they won their last game and I don’t take that lightly. I’m grateful for the opportunities we’ve had, and it’s made this season special. ”
Goff reportedly graduated from Wheeling University in 2016 and earned a degree in elementary education and was ready to jump into the real world. While looking for opportunities, it was a connection with a former Travel Ball coach that landed Goff at the local school district of Olentangy in Ohio. She would serve as a substitute teacher while coaching the school’s freshman volleyball team for three seasons. It was a new experience for Goff but it was something she was ready to face head-on.
“For me, I knew my freshman team was going to play for someone they loved and respected,” Goff said. “I was nervous at first because I had never done anything like this, but they really bought into my system and the program system. I cared about them, I wanted the best for them, and I was clear about that, and we had a great season, especially the first one and it was a joy to coach them.”
After a few years as a substitute teacher, Goff was able to land a full-time teaching position as a fifth-grade teacher at the local school district of Olentangy. While studying at Wheeling, she learned such things as how to teach programs, how to manage a classroom, and how to motivate students. One thing she didn’t realize was how much passion you have for the court once you step onto it, and it’s become as important in her life as volleyball is. was during his playing days.
“I don’t think you realize how passionate you are about the job until you’re at it,” Goff said. “You take all the classes in college, then you teach the students, then most of us substitute while some go straight into the classroom. I didn’t expect the attention and the love I had for the students. And that’s obviously not taught in the classes. No one tells you how much you really care about your students. I wanted to make sure they had a good life not only inside my class but also outside.
While at Wheeling, Goff noted Dr. Jane Neuenschwander as a role model for her in the teaching field. Goff says Neuenschwander demonstrated a passion for teaching and helped instill that passion in his students.
“I had a teacher, Dr. Neuenschwander, and she was just a role model for this passion for teaching,” Goff said. “She was very honest with us about when she thought it was time to leave the classroom and become a college professor and how she felt if she couldn’t give these students 100% of her time. at work, so it was no longer appropriate for her to teach children. She modeled creativity, setting high standards for your students and knowing that they are tiny humans you are raising to go out into the world. I I enjoyed her classes, the time spent with her and the advice she gave.”
Although Wheeling is a small school in West Virginia, Goff encourages people to give it a shot because it’s a wonderful place. She notes that it can be as fun and as beneficial as you make it. She says her time in Wheeling was the best four years of her life and she wouldn’t trade this opportunity for anything.
“Rolling is really what you make of it,” Goff said. “The people I spent my time with in Wheeling, I still hang out today. I met my husband there, I met my roommates there, my best friends came from there .You create your fun, you create relationships and you have to accept the people there and accept to go to school there.It will be one of the best experiences of your life but you really have to give it a chance and hang out with the people around you because they’re amazing.”