Taking on the challenge

November 20, 2014

Nursing majors are notorious for being busy burying their heads in books or working off-campus in clinicals at all hours. Volleyball players practice almost every day and travel part of most weeks when in season. A volleyball playing nursing major is even busier. While some may shrink away from the challenge of making these two schedules work in harmony, Linnea Phillips, a junior from Yakima, Wash., embraces it.

When Linnea is not donning her scrubs and listening to heart beats, she plays for the Northwest Nazarene University Crusaders, a team that recently clinched the conference title of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) and now begins the fight for a national championship as the No. 1 seed in the NCAA West Regional tournament.

Linnea began playing volleyball when she was 12 years old and played throughout her middle and high school years. She never really thought about playing in college until her junior year of high school when was offered the chance to continue the sport: “Being able to play on a team is such a privilege; any minute on the court is an accomplishment in itself.”

When Linnea first spoke with NNU’s coach and the nursing department about her desire to pursue a career in nursing and to play the sport she loves, she met some resistance. Both nursing and volleyball have demanding schedules that do not naturally fit together, and many people told her it would be too difficult to attempt both. While she could have easily given up in the face of resistance, all Linnea had to say was, “challenge accepted.”

Following NNU’s desire to foster well-rounded students, Linnea’s coach and the nursing department worked together as a team to help her succeed. Linnea says, “I couldn’t do it without the support of the nursing program, my coach, and all three of us communicating to work around conflicts.”

It’s not as simple as booking a different flight so Linnea can be back from a game in time for her clinical rotations, the success is also due to her dedication. Coach Doug English has seen the desire that drives Linnea to work hard: “I see it most on the road where she diligently and consistently works on her school work in the airports and any free time we have. She has incredible time management skills and the want, need and work ethic to be both a great volleyball player and a great student.”

Prioritizing is an important part of Linnea’s great time management skills. “You have to know what is most important in that moment,” she shares.

With a practice or game almost every day, classes and an average of 130 clinical hours to complete a semester, Linnea has had to work hard to be as successful as she is today. Recently, she was named to the GNAC All-Academic Team for the second year in a row proving she has not only balanced nursing and volleyball, she has excelled in both.

Linnea credits a lot of her success to the support of people around her, not only from her coach and the nursing department, but also from her mom: “I couldn’t have done it without my mom’s confidence and support for nursing and for volleyball.” With dedication and some help from people around her, Linnea has made her challenging dream an accessible reality.
Follow Linnea and the Lady Crusaders in their quest for a national title at