Tatiana Dale’s road to becoming Point’s first volleyball All-American
Published 11:46 pm Friday, December 7, 2018
WEST POINT — Tatiana Dale’s mind wasn’t on volleyball when she received the biggest news of her playing career earlier this week.
The pre-med senior was working on an end of the semester essay when her teammate informed her that she was named an NAIA All-American, the first in Point volleyball’s six-year history.
Since transferring to Point from Faulkner State Community College last year, she became the first player in program history to be named a first team all-conference selection, and the first Skyhawk to be named the conference player of the year. This season, she led the conference with 393 kills, 136 total blocks, and a hitting percentage of .350. In each of the last two seasons, Point volleyball set a school record for wins in a year.
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“[I hope to show] that it’s possible,” Dale said. “Especially through your team, teamwork and all of your coaches. All of it comes into one. Knowing that it’s not just your work ethic, and what talent you were born with and blessed with, but also the people who helped you get to the point that you’re at now.”
Dale began playing volleyball when she was in eighth grade. She said that this past season was the final of her career, which made the All-American news that more special to her.
“I’ve always held myself to a high standard,” Dale said. “I’ve been told a lot that I’m hard on myself, but I think that goes into [winning awards].”
Although Dale plays with passion on the court during matches, she remains soft-spoken away from the game. A stranger may not immediately recognize that they’ve met an accomplished athlete when meeting Dale because she doesn’t carry a natural boastful personality. God and her nonstop will to be better is what keeps her humble.
“I could think that, ‘yeah, I had a good season,’ but still it could always be better,” she said. “You never do anything perfectly, which is probably the most humbling thing.”
On the day the news was released, Dale left a lab wearing a gray hoodie with a gray Point t-shirt underneath. During volleyball season, the team held a weekly Bible study, and prayed together before every practice and game. Recently, Dale has been spotted at the scorer’s table during basketball games, assisting others on game nights. Although she only spent the final two years of her college career in the area, Dale said she that feels at home in West Point.
“Everything’s so family-oriented here,” she said. “You grow such close relationships with everybody, and I think that’s going to be the biggest thing you miss when you leave. You’ll always have them, but you won’t be able to have such easy access to them like you do now.”
Dale was one of 10 Skyhawks named to the conference all-academic team this season. After graduating in the spring, she plans on going to nursing school to further her studies. Point head volleyball coach Amanda Jones said that she has no doubt of Dale succeeding in any path she chooses upon receiving her undergraduate degree.
“I have no doubt her success in life will mirror her success on the court,” Jones said. “I could not be more proud of what she’s done, and she will be missed greatly.”