Walking away from your sport is never easy. Especially after the roller coaster of a ride that Maggie Kuyper had during her career. While she decided that playing on the volleyball court was no longer for her, that did not keep her away from the game.

Here is Maggie’s Story!


Recruited by a variety of mid-level D1 programs, Maggie verbally committed to UNC-Wilmington during her high school campaign. After questionable conduct within the program, she decided it would be best to enter the recruiting game again and find a new future home.

While her dad was in the midst of changing jobs, he landed a role at Belmont within the Entrepreneurship program, but the Belmont Volleyball was not actively recruiting.

Shortly after, she committed to Gardner-Webb and began her career there.

Even with a great experience within volleyball, she had a hard time identifying with the community on campus which negatively impacted her overall experience. After her sophomore year, she was back to the drawing boards because her coach resigned.. Heading back home to Nashville, she decided to reach out to Belmont once more to see if there was a spot for her.

Luckily, there was.

As a transfer myself, I can attest that it is not an easy process by any means. Finding your role on a new team, forming new relationships, getting familiar with those around you, adjusting with academics, seeing where you stack up within your position group. The list goes on.

Maggie & Belmont Volleyball

“(Coach Deane) was like “We’ll do whatever you need to get you here, it will be great”… I came in junior year and did not play. At all.”

Understandably, she was upset and questioning what she had done wrong to not get any playing time. Maggie met with the coach, facilitated hard conversations, watched film with the coaches, and more.

She still hardly played.

“It was super hard to come from being an All-Freshman, and All-Conference selection… within the same conference as Belmont… to not getting any playing time”.

As most people within athletics know, the college athletics world is small. Everyone knows everyone. You have conference foes, enemies, rivalries and so forth. Considering Maggie was an All-Freshman and All-Conference selection, it’s safe to say that the Belmont program was aware of her talents before she arrived to join the team.

“I was doing everything I could to try and perform and make my coach happy. I realized that doesn’t take you anywhere.”

Big Decisions

Many college volleyball athletes will get into coaching club teams during their off season to make some money and give back to the next generation of athletes. Maggie tried it out and fell in love with it. The summer after her Junior year, she applied for some coaching positions and landed one at a local high school in Nashville.

She had a decision to make: Keep playing volleyball or begin a coaching career.

She spoke with her club director looking for some insight and direction on what her next steps should be. Their conversation looked a little like this:

“if you got injured, how would you feel?”

“I would feel so relieved”

“Well there you have it. If something outside of your control took you away from senior year, would that be a relief?”


“Well there’s your answer.”

From there, she met with Head Coach Deane, and gave up her scholarship to go pursue her coaching passions.

“I was like… I don’t know what to tell you. I did everything you ever asked me to do and all I ever do is sit the bench… you would put me in at point 28. That’s no fun.”

Changing Roles

During the time of transition, she had multiple conversations with those in the athletic department.

“I felt so supported and loved by Collette Keyser, John Langdon, Renee Schultz and Betty Wiseman… but as a student-athlete, not just as a volleyball player”

The combination of support within the athletic department and guidance from her parents, Maggie was ready to go all in and start her coaching career – but not without her life starting to look different than before. She was no longer on the team, yet she remained at Belmont.

“I sat in the stands watching all my teammates senior year win the conference and go to NCAA… It’s so different how our paths changed.”

While Maggie did not have the typical college volleyball experience, she still loves Belmont so much to this day. She went on to coach for 15 years, including two state championships.

She attributes her coaching style to be the coach she wished she had.

Finding Identity

When introducing yourself, the first thing you follow your name with is what you do.

Hi, My name is Laura and I am on the volleyball team.

Hi, My name is Jeffrey and I work on an audit team for Earnst and Young.

Hi, My name is Kaitlyn and I am a physical therapy student.

It’s just apart of our culture – and that’s where the separation of what you do and who you are is most confused.

For Maggie, her grandpa prepared her for the moments where she would have to find more to her identity than just volleyball.

He said “Just so you know, its going to be really hard to walk around campus the first day of class. Because when you introduce yourself you always say you’re on the volleyball team. You wear your practice shirt to class every day. You’re not going to have that identity anymore.”

She had to find who she was without her sport and without that deep connection and identification with the athletics world on campus.

“To separate that and say “Hey I’m Maggie” that’s it, that’s all I got. It was a humbling disconnect to remove that from my identity.”

Her time off the court was not wasted, Maggie poured into the future generation of “volleyballers” while making her own big life decisions. She got engaged during her Junior year and was preparing to start her life.

“I didn’t even try to write my own story. I was just like “okay, cool, what’s next?”

Moving Forward

From the moment Maggie committed to UNC-Wilmington, to the moment she gave up her scholarship to pursue other passions, she was growing.

That’s the key message of her story: Keep growing, pursuing your passions,
and following your dreams
. Circumstances change and that means that you can too!

Now, Maggie is a wife, mother of three, and child of God. She owns and runs a painting business and is still a follower and supporter of Belmont Athletics.