Fighting back her pre-game nerves, Senior Zuri Romeo began to pace back and forth in the locker room. Thinking back on all the games she played in middle school, nothing compared to being a freshman on varsity and competing against mostly upperclassmen.
Ever since her early middle school years, her ambition to join a sport grew unbearable. Being a 5’9 sixth-grader, she knew it was going to be a sport that would be a benefit to her features.
One day after school, Coach Steele, the coach for Howell L. Watkins girls’ volleyball team, invited Romeo to come out to one of the tryouts because she looked “built to play volleyball.” After her first day at tryouts, she automatically fit in as a middle hitter. Her mother had a great influence on her decision in choosing volleyball because she also used to play while she was in school.
“Coach Steele was one of my favorite coaches because he always has seen potential in me ever since my first try out in middle school,” Romeo said.
Romeos’ first travel team that she was recruited for was the Jupiter Elite during middle school. She began to focus on her flaws in order to perfect them, gaining skills that led her to thrive. She performed in over 15 games gaining experience with other talented players.
“Jupiter Elite is where I officially got introduced to how volley goes, like in middle school we were limited to three sets and true volleyball has five,” Romeo stated.
During the summer entering freshmen year, Romeo trained with Coach Karen at Suncoast. She would participate in conditioning with other students, then stay after practice to work out in the weight room with a few others.
“I strived to be a starter, I did extra hours of practice, trained in the mornings, and had a personal trainer, in order to have a chance to be a starter,” Romeo stated.
As she entered high school, the coaches have already seen her dedication and ambitions to be a part of the team. During tryouts, it was no surprise her skills granted her a position on the girls’ varsity volleyball team.
“Zuri is a beast! She does so many things as a hitter and a blocker. She’s a power hitter and inspires her teammates,” Coach Bowman said.
During her freshman year season, she was challenged with playing under pressure during games. She also felt as if she was not as experienced as other players even with her past experience with Jupiter Elite. This then motivated her to work 10 times harder than everyone else and refused to be anything less than great.
“My biggest fear during my freshman year on varsity was competing against players who were more experienced than I was and losing against them,” Romeo said.
Looking for opportunities to improve, Romeo joined the Vipers Volleyball Club during the spring of 2017. Always focusing on her hitting techniques and improving her plays, she was appointed captain of the Vipers due to her teammates’ admiration towards her hard work, her dedication and her never being satisfied.
“I am a go-getter. I will not stop until I am satisfied,” Romeo stated.
Then joining the Orlando Tampa Volleyball Academy (OTVA) in 2018-2019, which was her last year playing on a high school travel team. During her time with OTVA, she mastered her hitting form. She explained how it was her “best team” of travel and really impacted her to continue during college.
Now in her senior year, captain of the Girls Volleyball team at Suncoast, Romeo is now looking into her future in college volleyball and is interested in playing for the University of Central Florida, Howard University and the University of Florida.
“ I love being the captain of the team. It helps me help the team improve their individual skills. It helps me be a leader,” Romeo stated.