Chelsea Goodman represented BYU volleyball playing professionally in Puerto Rico in 2009. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
In the past few years the BYU women’s volleyball team has graduated many stellar student-athletes, some of which have been able to play professionally in other countries.
Three-time All-Mountain West Conference selection and 2007 graduate, Erica Lott, is in Germany while AVCA All-America honorable mention honoree, Rachel Dyer, competes in Spain and AVCA All-Region player, Lauren Richards Evans is in Austria, all representing their Alma Mater while playing professional volleyball.
Also the first Cougar to be named an All-American since 2000, Chelsea Goodman, had the opportunity to play professionally in Puerto Rico.
Goodman finished playing at BYU in 2007 and was asked to stay as an assistant coach to the then first-year BYU head coach, Shay Goulding. After coaching the 2008 season at BYU, Goodman accepted to play professional volleyball in Puerto Rico, arriving in January of 2009.
She ended up playing for about three months in Puerto Rico’s professional league, traveling around the island to different matches, but never expected what was right around the corner that she would later describe as the greatest thing she has ever done in her life.
“It was awesome playing professional volleyball,” said Goodman. “It was very different from collegiate volleyball. It is a business down there – it is a professional sport. It was awesome in the sense that it was my job and I love playing volleyball.”
When asked if she would ever do it again, she expressed that she wouldn’t because her body hurts.
“But if you were to ask me before, I would absolutely say yes,” said Goodman. “It was a great experience and I wouldn’t trade it, but I am now ready to retire.”
Goodman realized while in Puero Rico that not only does she love volleyball, but she loves BYU volleyball.
“There is nothing like it,” said Goodman. “You’re not going to get the relationships that you get here, you’re not going to get the loving coaches, the BYU environment, you’re not going to get the trainers, etc.”
However, the one thing that Goodman didn’t expect to happen when she packed up and moved to a foreign country to play professional volleyball, was ending up serving a full-time two-month mini mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When she first got down to Puerto Rico at the beginning of January she started volunteering in the mission office because she didn’t have practice until 5 p.m.
“I got to know the mission president down there really well,” said Goodman. “I started to become better friends with the his family and would hang out at their house. I just started talking to him about different things going on in my life and he talked to me about serving a mini-mission.”
A mini-mission is when one serves as a full-time missionary would, the time commitment being whatever you choose – a day, a week, a couple of weeks or even a couple of months.
“Push came to shove and I decided to finish up volleyball a month and a half early in order to start my mini-mission,” said Goodman. “It was definitely the best thing that I have ever done in my entire life.”
Goodman was able to serve in two different areas with three different companions, teaching the people of Puerto Rico about her religion in the Spanish language.
When asked how she learned Spanish so quickly, she expressed how she was very blessed with being able to talk and to be understood, but it wasn’t easy.
“My first week I was with two other girls, and then I got a companion from Provo, Utah who helped me so much,” said Goodman. “There were daily tears and me saying, ‘I can’t do this!’ But day by day, prayer by prayer, I was able to teach and understand and I got better and better. I saw miracles not only in myself, but in other people.”
To Goodman, the best part of serving a mission was being able to go up to any stranger and strike up a conversation with them, telling them about the best thing in her life, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“I know that I was led to some people that I needed to meet and talk to while serving my mission,” said Goodman. “I know that when I was in third grade I was prompted to play volleyball instead of basketball so I could eventually play for BYU and play professionally in Puerto Rico so I could serve this mission.”
Goodman returned to the states in May when she accepted her first teaching job at Spanish Fork Junior High teaching Health. In addition to teaching she will continue coaching volleyball, but on the high school level at Payson High School in Payson, Utah.
“I love the relationships that I am able to build on the volleyball court as a coach and I love being in the classroom,” said Goodman. “I love teaching because the hours are good and I love coaching high school because it keeps me in contact with volleyball.”