After being kicked off the Florida A&M University’s volleyball team, Marrita Royster-Crocket could have wasted her talents, but instead she decided to take them overseas to Switzerland to pursue her dreams.
Royster-Crockett was dismissed by the athletic department after being classified as academically ineligible last year.
“They told us we have to declare a major after August of our junior year to be academically eligible,” said Royster-Crockett, a 20 year old, senior broadcast student from Tallahassee. “My transcript read pre-journalism instead of broadcast journalism. It was a technical error.”
That error cost Royster-Crockett both academically and athletically.
She lost her scholarship because she was not allowed to practice and she was still unable to be a part of the team. She missed the whole season.
According to Alvin Hollins, assistant athletic director of media relations, the Athletic Department could not comment because the information is confidential.
In October 2007, she was told her ineligibility was a mistake but she already missed half of the season. Royster-Crockett asked to be red shirted following the mix-up.
A red shirt is when a player has five academic years, but skips a year of play without losing a year of eligibility.
“They ended up giving me my red shirt and my coach stop contacting me,” Royster-Crockett said. “They told me not to practice with the team and wait until next fall.”
With a burning desire to continue her career on the court, Royster-Crockett turned to her mother Rita Buck-Crockett, a volleyball agent and two-time Olympian. Buck-Crockett decided to contact Techlaser in Cheseaux, a national team in Switzerland to prevent her daughter from ending her volleyball career.
“I have contacts in other countries,” Buck-Crockett said. “I just thought that Switzerland would be a good choice to start her professional career. She lived there. She has her grandparents, uncles and she will have family there to support her.”
Royster-Crockett’s decision to play abroad became official when she found out in May that she wasn’t getting her scholarship back.
Royster-Crockett tried out for the Techlaser’s in May and was told she made the team on the spot.
She then set up a three year contract where she recieves at least $$2,000 a month, five meals a day, $1000 dollars for every game won and $$500 for every playoff game won.
Royster-Crockett said it would be a major adjustment for her going from a college team to a professional league.
“I don’t know what to expect. Now I’m playing with grown women,” Royster-Crockett said. “I’ll have to adapt.”
Royster-Crockett has been playing volleyball since the tender age of 10. She said she is following in her mother’s footsteps and one day hopes to make it to the Olympics.
“I been around volleyball before I was born. My mom played volleyball when she was seven months pregnant with me. She played professional for 16 years and she’s a two-time Olympian,” Royster-Crockett said. “I always knew I wanted to go to the Olympics. My mom got a silver medal and I always wanted to beat her and get a gold medal.”
Royster-Crockett leaves for Switzerland Aug. 15.
She said feelings of excitement swim in her mind daily.
Although Royster-Crockett will enjoy the fruits of living her dream, she will struggle leaving the familiarity of being on “The Hill.”
“It’s going to be hard for me especially between me and my mom,” Royster-Crockett said. “My whole volleyball career she has been my coach or she has been there. I’m definitely going to miss my friends.”
Royster-Crockett said she will also miss the North Florida Volleyball Academy, a team of 14-year-old girls that she coaches.
Crockett was the coach of the year for the Florida region this year.
Charisse Perkins, 20, an exercise science student at Florida State University, said she will miss her roommate Royster-Crockett, but it’s something she has to do.
“It’s kind of bitter sweet. I’m sad, but I’m happy she’s going to be able to progress,” said Perkins, a Tallahassee native. “At the same time, I’ll hate that she’s going to leave.”
Royster-Crockett academic career at FAMU is not over. Every summer Royster-Crockett will come back and take summer classes as a part-time student.
Her season will start in October and she said she is prepared to work hard.
Full of optimism for the future, Royster-Crockett said, “I want to bring some American flavor to the team. They are a young team. I’m up for a challenge.”