York’s Newest Women’s Volleyball Member: A Nitaye Riley Profile

By Alejandra Hernandez

While growing up, Nitaye Riley said she always weighed more than the other kids. Because of this, she wanted to join a sports team to prove that she was more than just a heavy kid. But because she was so out of shape, Riley was intimidated by being surrounded by athletic kids, which caused her to never try out for any sports team. 

Riley says it wasn’t until one of her cousins, who was also overweight, joined the volleyball team in high school that she was motivated to join as well. Seeing her cousin on the court encouraged her to join a team. She’s been interested in volleyball ever since.

Born and raised in Queens, Riley is a York College freshman and part of the women’s volleyball team. 

“I had the absolute best time with my team this semester. I had never done college sports before and was nervous about not being good enough to make the cut,” said Riley. “The coaches and the team were very open to newcomers that didn’t have much skill. They took me in with open arms and helped me develop my skills. I wouldn’t change anything about it.”

Being on the women’s volleyball team has pushed Riley to work hard on herself. She always wanted to be fit and play sports so that she’ll look good to others. But, getting on the team, practicing hard, and playing harder, made her realize that she loved the feeling. It became more about making herself feel good than looking good to others. This new mindset has helped her work on her self-esteem and work to improve other aspects of her life as well.

As a social work major, Riley’s career goal after graduation is to become a licensed clinical social worker.

“I honestly have never thought about a connection between my interest in volleyball and social work. However, I would say that social work is all about self-improvement. There are so many ways that people can start to feel overwhelmed with the things going on and there’s always room for someone to be there to help with the burden. I want to be a social worker because I want to be able to help people, but that starts with being able to help myself and volleyball helps me to work towards that,” said Riley.

She expressed she never really had any serious sports role models but respects her coaches. They are the ones who have encouraged her to push herself and watching them push her teammates has resulted in gratitude for their hard work and dedication to the team.

“Even if I never play for them again,” says Riley. “I will always remember them as my first coaches and the beginning of a new part of my life.”

While talking about sports and teammates, Riley said she knows everyone wants to win. “Yet, if winning is all you care about, then you won’t enjoy the sport to the fullest,” according to Riley. 

She said that the main goal for every game should be to play their hardest and do the best they can. Riley emphasized that no matter the result of winning or losing, student-athletes should leave every game feeling great about the work they’ve put in next to their team and know they should aspire to practice and play harder than they did for the next game. According to Riley, you should work hard, play harder and enjoy it all.

“Practice like you’ve never won; play like you’ve never lost.”

Riley’s greatest accomplishment is getting points for her team solely based on what she does. It’s not always the big plays that are the most acknowledged moment in a match. She loves being a part of her team and helping. But knowing she can score points for her team makes her feel great. 

As Riley talked about her team, she recalled a special moment.

“We’ve lost every game this season. A team has to win three sets to win the game. We usually lost every set of every game. However, in one of our last games of the season, we won a set. That was the first time we ever won anything,” says Riley. “That feeling of excitement and pride and getting to scream and hug my team as we cheered was absolutely amazing. We lost the total game, but that was still the best thing that had happened and I wish I could relive that feeling.”

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