Feeling The Support

Alexa Edwards

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It might be fate that led Alexa Edwards to become a volleyball star.

As the daughter of a former NBA star and college volleyball player, sports is in Edwards’ blood.

Her father, Frank Edwards, won an NBA title with the Philadelphia 76ers, while her mother, Cathy-Lumb Edwards, played college volleyball for the University of the Pacific.

However, volleyball wasn’t Alexa Edwards’ sport of choice as a young girl – basketball and soccer captured her interest instead.

But, because Edwards wasn’t overly fond of the physical requirements of soccer and basketball, she tried a sport that didn’t involve as much running – volleyball.

By choosing to play volleyball, Edwards was following in her mother’s footsteps.

And that wouldn’t be the last time it happened.

Just like mom

No matter what sport she played, Edwards knew she could count on her parents’ support.

Edwards got into volleyball with her mom right by her side as a coach on her elementary school and club volleyball teams.

“I just fell in love with it from a young age,” Edwards said.

“It definitely helps having parents who had such an experienced background in the sport and could give me a lot of advice.”

While she started playing volleyball at a young age, it wasn’t until fifth or sixth grade that Edwards truly began honing in on her craft.

With several years of steady improvement heading into high school, Edwards had a star-studded career at St. Francis High School in Sacramento.

And when it came time for Edwards to decide where she wanted to play college volleyball, one option stood out above the rest.

For the second time, Edwards chose to retrace her mother’s footsteps.

No doubt about it, she was going to play for the University of the Pacific — just like her mother did.

“It’s just so cool to follow in her footsteps,” Edwards said.

“I feel like everything that I’m going through, she’s been through, and there’s meaning to that. The history of our program is so rich, and I’m just happy to be a part of it in any way I can.”

But, even with the joy of attending Pacific just like her mom, one question still remained for Edwards – would she make the most of her chance?

Standing tall

At the Division I level, height can make all the difference in college volleyball.

Especially at a position like the outside hitter, where height plays a big role in effectiveness, Edwards stands out.

While most opponents will have hitters who stand at 6-foot-3 or taller, the 5-foot-11 Edwards doesn’t let height stop her from achieving anything – and she credits the Pacific coaching staff for believing that, too.

“I’ve always been an outside (hitter), and I’ve been blessed to have coaches who have helped me build confidence in my height,” Edwards said.

“My coach here, his system isn’t built on height, and I love that. He’s given me so much confidence to play as I am and grow into the player that I am.”

For as supportive as her immediate family has been, Edwards feels the same level of support at the University of the Pacific.

While making her college decision, Edwards knew she wanted to go to a place where could leave as a better player and a better person. She definitely felt that at Pacific, and she credits the entire coaching staff for helping her develop and grow as an athlete and person.

“(Head coach) Greg Gibbons is an amazing person and an amazing coach,” Edwards said.

“I don’t think I would be the player I am without him. Our assistant coach Cory Riecks is one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve ever met in my life, and he’s a very good person to talk to about either my physical game or my mental game. I really do feel 100% supported here.”

And with a campus in Stockton not far from where she played club volleyball, there’s a definite sense of family for Edwards in the Pacific volleyball program.

“We always say that we’re a family here,” Edwards said.

My coach here, his system isn't built on height, and I love that. He's given me so much confidence to play as I am and grow into the player that I am. I don't think I would be the player I am without him.

Building a future

Edwards concluded a standout junior season in 2022 and has grown into a leadership role.

That leadership includes finding out how to encourage each of her teammates individually, and being an example in practice.

But, Edwards knows her volleyball journey won’t last forever.

After her time at Pacific comes to a close, Edwards already knows what her future career path might hold. A political science and Spanish major, Edwards is seeking to become a lawyer in the future.

“I’ve always been really interested in civil rights, and being a black woman with a black father, I feel like there’s a lot of things that directly affect people that look like me and my dad,” Edwards said.

“Law is my passion, so that’s what I want to do.”

Before she can achieve those legal dreams, there’s still plenty for Edwards to accomplish on the court.

Winning a conference championship and making the NCAA Tournament remain key goals for Edwards and her teammates, along with smaller goals like consistency and clean play.

And as she works toward those goals, Edwards feels support.

Support from her parents, support from her friends, and support from her teammates and coaches.

“We’re all in with everything we do here, and that’s not something you get to experience too many times in your life,” Edwards said.