Although Eliza Zachary’s time playing volleyball at Georgia State came to an end last season, her success off the court continues. Eliza, who graduated in December, was offered by the President of Growing Leaders the opportunity to speak at the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Conference during the NCAA Final Four.

She currently interns with Growing Leaders, which is a non-profit company that “works to help equip students, businesses, and even athletes with leadership skills that will help them throughout their life.”

The president, Dr. Tim Elmore, asked Eliza to speak while they were headed to the conference. While Eliza wasn’t exactly prepared, she decided to give it her best shot and was excited to provide a student-athlete’s perspective to Dr. Elmore’s mission for athletics, which is to show coaches that “investing in your players will help them to become compelled and committed to their coach’s vision and program.”

Eliza says she was eager to share her player-coach experience and give her “highest praise” to Georgia State’s volleyball program. “I was honored to have the opportunity to share how amazing my coaches at GSU are and how much they impacted me as a player.”

During her speech, she discussed to her audience of coaches how important it was for her to have her coach, Sally Polhamus, invest in her and inspire her to be a great woman even after playing volleyball. “As female athletes, we just need to hear, I believe in you and I want you to succeed in whatever you do,” Eliza said. “We’re already so critical of ourselves and our performance that we need to hear that to get to the next level.”

The type of encouragement the coaching staff gave her is what helped her to finish third in career kills at Georgia State.  “I was a very analytical player that lived and died by the numbers, but Coach Polhamus challenged me to stop looking at the stat sheets because it wasn’t healthy.” Eliza explained that this aligned directly with Dr. Elmore’s idea, so she is still very happy she shared her story.

Eliza’s internship with Growing Leaders is providing her various opportunities to not only increase her public speaking skills, but to also strengthen her leadership qualities. She plans to take all that she learns during her time with them, as well as what she learned as an athlete at Georgia State, when she travels to Europe in August to train to play professional volleyball.

“I’ve learned that dreams require you to take risks and it’s outside of your comfort zone where growth happens,” Eliza said.