As a senior outside hitter for the Johnson & Wales women’s volleyball team, Elizabeth Hamilton and her Wildcat teammates are in the NCAA Division 3 tournament for the fourth straight season.
Johnson & Wales (27-4) won its fifth straight Great Northeast Athletic Conference title last weekend with a 3-0 sweep over Rivier.
A Canton High graduate who was the Hockomock League MVP as a senior, the 5-foot-10-inch Hamilton has been a four-year contributor for the Wildcats, earning GNAC Academic and all-conference honors. Johnson & Wales entered this weekend’s Tufts Regional ranked 21st in Division 3.
“Elizabeth has been a strong role model on and off court throughout her career here at JWU,” coach Nancy Somera said.
Hamilton was a solid first-year performer at outside hitter, but after suffering a shoulder injury, she was shifted to the back, and has taken on a defensive role her final three seasons.
In the classroom, she has shined, too.
“Elizabeth has done an excellent job of taking advantage of JWU’s robust internship program and Directed Education Experience program, which has positioned her well for a future career in hotel management,” Somera said. “I’m certain she has a bright future ahead in the industry.”
The 2015 All-Scholastic caught up with the Globe before the NCAA tournament.
Q. Can you describe your role on the court?
A. As an outside, we are responsible for both hitting and being a defensive player in the back row. We kind of do it all besides setting. So we block, kind of the go-to hitter on the outside if there’s trouble on our side of the court. And in the back row, we’re typically center backs. It’s just reading and playing around the block, picking up whatever we can.
Q. What initially attracted you to the hospitality industry?
A. My dad [John] is actually [with Pyramid Hotel Group]. I kind of grew up watching him travel from hotel to hotel. I got exposure in that world of what it takes to make a hospitality business work. I saw that in myself. The leadership, determination kind of aspect that I think that I will succeed well. Just growing up with him and in that world definitely exposed me.
Q. What was your internship?
A. I actually did one this past summer with [my father’s] company. It was in business development. I got a lot of exposure to the whole process of how business deals work within hotels, and what it takes to get a hotel. Another internship was with an asset management company, in revenue management.
Q. How did your shoulder injury change your volleyball career?
A. I tore my labrum in my right shoulder. I believe it had been torn for a little while, but it started to really interfere with my everyday life. After sophomore year and our season in December, I decided it was time [for surgery] and it was too painful to keep playing through. After that, of course I rehabbed and did what I needed to do, but it never got me back to full swinging mobility.
I’ve always been a very defensive player, in my mind, and originally that’s what I started as. It just kind of fell into place that I started to take more of a back-role responsibility.
Q. How has the volleyball program sustained such success at JWU?
A. I think we hold each other to a really high standard, on the court and off the court, training for the season . . . Playing with the same players coming in from my freshman year, we have a connection that when we’re on the court, we know what each other is going to do, who is going to take the balls.
Through the years we’ve developed a strong bond on the court, we know what the next move is going to be and how to react and how each player wants someone to pick them up if they’re down. We do a really good job of just knowing each other, and that’s helped us sustain the level that we’ve played at.
Q. Your favorite volleyball achievement?
A. When [Johnson & Wales) won regionals in 2017. . . . That was a big accomplishment not only for our program, but for the entire school. . . . It was a really cool experience to go to Michigan and experience the whole NCAA Elite Eight experience.
Q. Do you have any pregame superstitions?
A. I do the cheer before our game. . . . If I don’t get everyone hyped up in the right way, or I don’t do my secret handshakes with everyone before the game, it’s kind of like, ‘Oh, I didn’t do it, what’s going to happen?’
Q. Who are your top three artists on your pregame playlist?
A. Definitely Drake. . . . Mill gets played quite a bit. Cardi B is always a favorite. Beyonce, Nicki Minaj.