CLIPBOARD Q&A

Powell taking on new responsibilities as senior at Virginia Tech

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Cera Powell is a 2018 Northwood graduate and one of the top former Chatham County athletes competing at the college level.

Powell is a senior for the Virginia Tech volleyball team, currently 8-5 on the season after a loss to Georgia Tech on Sept. 25.

Playing her fourth season with the Hokies, the 6-foot Powell has taken over as the team’s top offensive option. Powell currently leads Virginia Tech with 129 kills, 36 more than the next closest player.

The volleyball standout is also the sister of current Northwood junior Drake Powell, who recently committed to play basketball at UNC-Chapel Hill. Powell is recognized as a top-50 recruit in the Class of 2024 in 247Sports’ composite rankings.

Cera spoke with the News + Record on Monday about her senior season, the aftermath of the COVID pandemic and her brother’s recruitment.

What have these past few months been like? Try putting in perspective what it means to be in your final season at Virginia Tech.

CERA POWELL: These past few months, we’ve been working really hard. We’ve had a lot of new people — transfers and freshmen. We came in during late June to get started training, and I think that was super helpful. I think a lot of our new people have really bought into wanting the program to be better than it has been. I think that’s been super beneficial to the program as a whole.

You’ve been with the program for a while now. What has it been like taking on a new role offensively this season as well as acting as a senior leader?

This year has been different, because I’ve had to take on a different role. The support of my teammates, them believing in me and my coaches believing in me, has helped a lot. There’s been times ... I’m not really a vocal leader. I’m more of a lead by example type of person, but this year I’ve had to take on more of a talking role. Any time I have to speak to the team in a big group setting, there’s one person on my team who is always like, “It’s O.K., you got this.” They know I hate public speaking, but everyone here trusts you and respects what you have to say. Just the reassurance from my teammates and the support from my coaches has been super helpful.

Your college career has been anything but normal after dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. What was it like going through all that with the team, and how does it feel knowing we’re almost past it?

It’s a super weird feeling. I feel like I’ve been here forever, but at the same time it feels like I’ve barely been around. I really liked our COVID season because we got to play in the fall and the spring. I always like playing games more than I like having practice. And the spring of my junior year, that was my first time having a spring offseason training program. We also had a coaching change with the COVID year. At least I think it was. All the years are running together. We didn’t really have much time with our coaches before everybody was sent home. I think this past spring season really helped me understand what the coaches are looking for and really improve my game from their perspective and my own perspective. And it’s paying off now.

Your brother recently committed to play basketball at UNC-Chapel Hill. What has it been like watching him go through this process, and what advice have you given him about competing at the next level?

I just told him, you have to choose a school where, if your sport wasn’t there, or if coaches change and they didn’t want you on the team anymore, would you still want to be going there and be a normal student? That was a big thing for me when I started. Coaches aren’t permanent and volleyball or whatever sport you play isn’t forever. You want to be in a place you’ll like. His recruiting process was a little different than mine ... I wouldn’t want to say he was nervous, but he was getting a lot of attention. I told him to just calm down. The coaches see potential in you going through their program, so if you keep doing what they’re doing, if they want you, they want you. Growing up we were all UNC fans. Both of our parents went there and it was the closest school nearby. We went to a lot of games growing up. It’s so cool watching him be able to achieve one of his dreams. It’s so cool. He worked so hard. Ever since he was a kid, he was always the hardest worker between himself, me and our other brother Deuce. We always knew he was going to do something big.

Sports Editor Jeremy Vernon can be reached at jeremy@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @jbo_vernon.

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