Senior Snapshot: With the 2020 Volleyball Season Canceled, Lauren Gedney Found New Ways to Lead Her Team
Lauren Gedney ’21 has spent the second semester of her senior year living alone in a triple on the fifth floor of a comparatively empty Tower Court. She was recruited to play volleyball for Wellesley, and this year is a co-recipient of the Barbara Barnes Hauptfuhrer ’49 Scholar-Athlete Award, but the 2020 season—her last one with the Blue—was canceled. She will attend a Wellesley commencement unlike any other on June 4. Despite every senior experience she missed, however, Gedney remained upbeat and found new opportunities.
“It’s definitely a little heartbreaking,” Gedney said. “I thought that I’d be able to round out my Wellesley experience with this nice senior season. And we’re really good, so we probably would have gone far.”
Even without the chance to compete, being part of the team turned out to be a unique adventure. “Last semester, it was just me and three first-years: that was the volleyball experience!” she said. “The level of play isn’t the same, but it was really awesome because I love connecting with my younger Wellesley siblings. I loved being that mentor for them. It was probably a bonding experience unlike any I’ll ever have.”
“COVID aside, I think what I’ve gotten out of my Wellesley experience…is not being afraid to put yourself in uncomfortable positions, because that’s the time where you experience the most growth.”Lauren Gedney ’21
Being on the volleyball team also provided her with another unexpected opportunity: leading a racial justice reading group over Zoom for her teammates during the uncertain fall of 2020. A double major in political science and peace and justice studies, Gedney chose material from various courses she’d taken, and the discussions were significant. “As an athletics community, we realized that we really weren’t doing enough to support our Black siblings,” she said. “I loved sharing in my teammates’ perspectives and talking about not only social justice issues but politics in general, because that wasn’t something we had ever discussed as a team before.” She believes these kinds of discussions should be mandatory for athletes: “There was never any traction on that idea; the athletics community never really took it up. That being said, I was very happy that I could be part of this with the volleyball team.”
As a member of Class Council, Gedney helped select Massachusetts State Rep. Liz Miranda ’02 as this year’s commencement speaker, and she hopes to work as a political staffer next year. “I love D.C., and that’s probably where I want to end up,” she said, although she would be “perfectly happy” to land a political position in Massachusetts. She also has plans to join a recreational volleyball league and is considering playing again in the NCAA if and when she decides to attend graduate school.
Gedney advises students to take a fearless approach to their time at Wellesley. “COVID aside, I think what I’ve gotten out of my Wellesley experience—what I hope everyone gets from their Wellesley experience—is not being afraid to put yourself in uncomfortable positions, because that’s the time where you experience the most growth,” she said. “I would encourage younger siblings to do new things that they haven’t done before: take classes about things that you don’t know a lot about, start being friends with someone you wouldn’t normally be friends with. It was because I tried a lot of new things that I was able to actually figure out who I am and what I like and what I want to do.”