Volleyball has provided quite the journey for former Bradley star Lindsay Stalzer. After years of traveling across the world, the 2006 BU graduate has finally found her way home.
A graduate of Kewanee High School, Stalzer decided to attend Bradley to major in mechanical engineering, which she thought would be her career path.
“It was kind of a no-brainer for me,” Stalzer said. “I wanted to pursue a career in engineering, and Bradley is known for its engineering school, and I also had this opportunity to play volleyball on a scholarship.”
Stalzer excelled as an outside hitter for the Braves, setting the school and Missouri Valley Conference single-season kills record her senior year with 720, en route to the MVC player of the Year award. She also finished her career as the MVC’s career kills leader with 1,948, a record she holds to this day.
“I’m very fortunate for my time at Bradley,” Stalzer said. “It’s led me into a professional career that’s taken me around the world.”
In total, Stalzer has played in 10 different countries around the globe. She has spent seven seasons in the Philippines Super Liga with a few stops in Indonesia along the way. Stalzer is a two-time league MVP, winning the award with the Foton Tornadoes in 2015 and the Petron Blaze Spikers in 2018. As a member of the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, she was named team captain for the 2020 season.
The team was in first place to start the season. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the season to shut down and forced Stalzer back to the United States.
“I was crushed,” Stalzer said. “We had just started to get into the season … we were going to win it, so it’s even more of a dagger to the heart.”
Philippines Super Liga was shut down in March 2020, and consequently Stalzer has not played a competitive match in a professional league since. However, a new opportunity arose back in the States.
In two weeks, Stalzer will debut in the new professional volleyball league: the Dallas, Texas-based Athletes Unlimited, the first-ever professional volleyball league in the United States. The company behind it had successfully put together leagues for softball and lacrosse in the past year.
Over the course of four weeks, 44 athletes will play with an athlete-centric model in which they earn points based on individual performance and team wins. After each weekend, the top four players statistically will become team captains and have the ability to choose their own teams. It’s a completely different environment compared to what Stalzer is used to.
“The format of the whole league is different, very different, than any other league that I’ve competed in internationally,” Stalzer said. “I think that the competition is going to be pretty, pretty good.”
Despite the differences Athletes Unlimited brings, playing in her home country is a dream come true for Stalzer.
“I’ve been hoping to have a league like this for quite some time now, and it’s finally here,” Stalzer said. “I really just hope that it kind of grows the sport and it makes more people fall in love with volleyball.”
It was a long time coming for the opportunity to play professionally in the United States. After 14 years in 10 different countries, Stalzer has accomplished a lot in her long career. Now, at age 36, she still enjoys the thrill of competition years after first picking up a volleyball.
“Volleyball, I think, will always be a part of me,” Stalzer said. “I just can’t get away from it … it’s like volleyball is a drug you just can’t quit. ”