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How MSU volleyball's Elena Shklyar used her other passion to cope with the absence of sports

October 12, 2020
Junior Elena Shklyar at a match during the 2019 volleyball season. Photo courtesy of Michigan State Athletic Communications.
Junior Elena Shklyar at a match during the 2019 volleyball season. Photo courtesy of Michigan State Athletic Communications. —
Photo by matthew_mitchell_photography | The State News

When sports were put on a hiatus in March, sports diehards scrambled for a way to cope. Some took up new hobbies or found new passions. For junior setter Elena Shklyar of the Michigan State volleyball team, she coped with the absence of her own sport by excelling in one of her other passions: writing.

In March, Shklyar started her own blog titled “Life in the Fast Lane” where she chronicled her life as a Division 1 athlete. One piece in particular Shklyar said she was proud of was written at the end of March about mental health.

“It actually kind of blew up ... for my own little, personal blog,” Shklyar said.

After gaining some attention, the MSU Athletic Department contacted the journalism major and aspiring sports journalist about writing for them, an offer she accepted.

Since then, Shklyar has written three blogs for Spartan Athletics. Her most recent blog, published on Aug. 31 details her life coming back to campus for training and the mix of emotions she felt when her volleyball season got postponed until the spring.

"In my opinion, this time is a blessing in disguise," Shklyar said in the piece. "Don't get me wrong - I wanted to be playing all fall, but a season in the spring might just be perfect for us. We lost all of the practices we usually have in the spring to get better, and now we can use the fall to make up for those practices we missed!"

With classes and training now occurring simultaneously, Shklyar said it has been hard to find the time to write new blogs; however, she expects a fourth one to come out sometime in the near future.

“I think being able to use my voice to tell people what a day in the life is for us and what we are going through with COVID and all that stuff has been really helpful to connect with fans, even though we cannot see them in person,” Shklyar said.

Prior to coming to Michigan State, the McLean, Virginia, native was a star at Langley High School. In 2017, she was named the Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year after finishing as a finalist in 2016. Shklyar helped lead her high school to a state championship her senior year while also being a First Team All-State selection in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Last year as a sophomore in the green and white, Shklyar built on what has already been an accomplishing career for her. In 2019, Shklyar appeared in 28 matches and played in 77 sets. She was second on the team in assists per set at 4.86 and fourth on the team in attacking percentage at 33.3%.

Success has not been limited to the volleyball court though. Shklyar was named to the Academic All-Big Ten team in 2019 as well as being a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. She plans on graduating this upcoming spring by taking 17 credits this semester and 19 credits the next semester. From there, she plans on doing a master’s program next year while also using her fourth year of eligibility to play volleyball for the Spartans.

“It is a lot, but I am pretty organized as a person in general,” Shklyar said. “I have my schedule planned out for the next three weeks homework wise.”

To go along with the blogs, Shklyar was also recently featured on Spartans All Access.

“That was really cool. … They did a really good job putting it together,” Shklyar said of the feature.

Typically there is a camera crew that helps film the episodes for the athletes. But, due to COVID-19, Shklyar had to rely on some of her own journalism skills and do most of the filming herself on her phone.

Shklyar said after college she hopes to play professional volleyball overseas. After or if that does not work out, she would like to be a sports journalist.

“I think I would definitely like to be in that industry in the end,” Shklyar said.

The volleyball season is set to start on Jan. 22, 2021.

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