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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Interview with Melissa Hales: Part I

Meet senior Melissa Hales, a 25-year-old English major who will leave UMass Boston after the fall semester. Hales is also a student athlete, having played for the UMass Boston women’s volleyball team since the fall of 2000. Her life has led her to two European countries, three American universities, and to one love of a universal sport. In a recent interview with the Mass Media, Hales describes her life, her athletic experience, and her aspirations for the future.

“I was born in Boston; I recently moved to Somerville; I graduated from Lexington high school, but I spent twelve years of my childhood in Europe, four years in Switzerland and eight years in Dusseldorf, Germany. I went to an international school, the American International School of Dusseldorf. It was all run with American textbooks; my father was a teacher there.

Hales felt content in Germany, but she moved back to the United States with her parent when she was twelve years old. Although she did not want to move back to her native country, she does not begrudge her parents’ motive for moving back to the United States.

“I think my parents didn’t want us (Hales and her older brothers) to feel the alienation that many American kids felt there, the sense of not having a place to call home. I did not really want to move back to America; I didn’t know it at all. I had all these fantasies that I felt I wasn’t ready to have destroyed.

After her graduation from Lexington high school, Hales went to Ithaca College, a small university in up state New York, for a year. However, she did not participate athletically at Ithaca College. She transferred to Fitchburg State, but she decided soon after to take a year off from university. After years of a stable address, she found herself bouncing from place to place.

“I wanted to play volleyball again, which I didn’t do at Ithaca. So I transferred to play [at Fitchburg State], but I thought afterwards that that was a stupid reason, so I took a year off and worked. Then I went back to Ithaca. However, financially, things didn’t fall through, so I didn’t go back the semester after that.”

After her second stint at Ithaca, Hales did not know what lay ahead, although she continually searching for the next phase of her life. She soon found it in a small private school for girls in Wellesley

“I took another year off and, during that year that I took off, my mother found me a job coaching volleyball at Dana Hall, and I coached that winter. It made me realize how much I missed volleyball. So the next thing I know, I go back to college.”

Hales finally arrived on the UMass Boston campus in the fall of 2000 and joined the volleyball team. However, her luck turned sour when, after only two weeks of play, she dislocated her elbow during warm-ups and was out for the rest of the year. Yet she bounced back to have two productive seasons for the Beacons. Although she does not have any lingering effects from the injury, the thought of re-injuring her elbow crosses her mind from time to time.

“The elbow just gets stiff every now and then. Sometimes I’ll land on it weird and I’ll get paranoid for a second, remembering how I injured it originally before the start of a game. If you can’t tell, I’m slightly clumsy,” she says with a smile. “I tripped over my own feet. I popped the elbow out and I just looked down at it. I couldn’t lift it up and I said to myself ‘That doesn’t look right.’ It looked like I didn’t even have an elbow.”

Hales attributes her fondness toward volleyball to fraternally inspiration mixed with nostalgia for her life in Germany. The team concept had always intrigued her, and she found it in this often overlook sport.

“In Germany, volleyball is a huge sport. I had always played with my brothers growing up. Not to sound sappy, I couldn’t wait to play, because I wanted to be like my brothers. I wasn’t necessarily driven to be on a team, I had just always looked up to them and play. So when I moved back here, the middle school team did not have a team, although Germany middle schools do. So I had to wait another couple of years until high school. I probably glorified volleyball a bit, perhaps because it isn’t a mainstream sport. I love the idea of working together as a unit on the court.”

After four years of volleyball at Lexington high school, Hales felt a slight trepidation about the transition to the collegiate game. Inconsistent participation did not help the matter due to the transferring, but she overcame her doubts when she finally landed here at UMass Boston.

“I had big expectations for college volleyball. I hadn’t play a lot for a couple of years and I felt that I was out of shape. My high school coach was very intense and very serious, but it worked out very well in terms of conditioning. It contributed to my being a little scare when I got to college, but it all worked out for the best.”