New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

In the huddle: From serves to spikes, Lindsey Hirano on her volleyball journey

NYU Athletics Libero Lindsey Hirano says farewell and thank you to volleyball.
Matt Petres
NYU Volleyball libero Lindsey Hirano. (Matt Petres for WSN)

Lindsey Hirano, NYU volleyball’s star libero, is a player with all the accolades, but it was far from a painless journey. 

After becoming an undefeated league champion at South Pasadena High School and winning the SoCal Regional Championships, she was recruited by NYU volleyball in 2020. She’s helped the NYU women’s volleyball team to consecutive NCAA Division III Final Four finishes in the last two seasons, and as the team’s libero, she broke NYU program records for career digs and digs per set in her sophomore and junior years.

But, coming off of another record-breaking season, Hirano decided it is time for her to move on from volleyball and pursue other interests. 

“Playing for ten years and then finally leaving the sport, it’s obviously a big step to take,” Hirano said.

By her sophomore year, Hirano was flying all over the country playing nationally ranked teams and setting records. But, she was having difficulty balancing a rigorous academic workload and participating in her other passions outside of volleyball and academics. 

“I feel like I’m a very happy person overall, and I have a lot of diverse interests,” said Hirano. “But I couldn’t invest into any of those or take time for myself and I thought, maybe volleyball is inhibiting me from meeting my personal needs.”

This decision did not come lightly to Hirano. She first questioned whether or not she should pursue volleyball to the extent she has when she was about to enter high school. Her sister, Maddy Hirano, had stopped playing before she went to college, so Hirano anticipated a similar path for herself. 

“After eighth grade, I never was like, ‘Volleyball is my only identity,’” Hirano said. “There’s other things to do. I was really grateful because it made me realize I can’t just invest all of my time and energy into volleyball.” 

Hirano made the decision to play throughout high school, but as the college process rolled around, she contemplated what was in her future as a student. If she were to play in college, she wanted to love the school, not just its sports program, and she wasn’t sure if that could be possible. 

Lindsey Hirano, who is a libero wearing pink, and another NYU volleyball player, who is wearing white, are squatting in preparation to set a volleyball.
Lindsey Hirano at a volleyball game. (Courtesy of Lindsey Hirano)

NYU’s head coach Andrew Brown and his volleyball program would eventually offer her the ability to be both a student and a player at once, and would care for her as a person.

“She’s somebody that I saw as being super special and having every intangible you could possibly imagine,” said Brown. “She wanted to get everything out of a college experience, not just volleyball, and I feel like that’s what we could sell: You can be the best student, you can be the best athlete, and you can do it in the best location.”

NYU and Brown reinvigorated Hirano’s love for the sport, providing her with both a fun sport and a community of friends and supportive coaches to encourage her growth and leadership.  

“I ended up just really loving it, I was so pleasantly surprised at how positive my experience at NYU was,” said Hirano, “We were breaking all these records, the coach really had so much faith in me to lead the team back row, and I was like, “I’ve never loved the sport more than I do now.’”

During this time, she began to realize that while the sport provided her joy and structure, it was unsustainable for her to continue a balanced lifestyle, culminating in her decision to leave the court after a third, record-breaking season as a Violet.

However, she doesn’t regret the time she’s spent on the sport she’s loved for more than half of her life and is grateful for her time with NYU athletics. 

“I would not have changed anything about my experience,” Hirano said. “Before my freshman year, we weren’t known for being a very dominant team. I’m proud of the fact that I was a part of a team that was able to help change the trajectory of NYU Volleyball.”

Now, she’s been able to prioritize her goals outside of volleyball. She signed up to run the Brooklyn half marathon, started a book club, and will be working at Citibank as an analyst this summer. 

“My goal in life is just to get the most out of everything, and every opportunity,” said Lindsey. “I think I’m a very adventurous person, and I’m really lucky I’ve had people in my life who also have that same interest and I’ve been able to do that.”

Contact Briggs Negrón at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Matt Petres
Matt Petres, Photo Editor
Matt Petres is a first-year studying Economics. He is from Chicago, Illinois and likes to bike and kayak. You can contact him on Instagram @matt.petres

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