Hi Everyone! My name is Tawnee Luafalemana and I am a professional beach volleyball player. My journey as a volleyball player is not like most. I started playing my freshman year of high school and ended up not really liking it at first. I was encouraged and inspired to play because my older sister got a full ride to the University Of Arizona after just two years of playing, which is almost unheard of. I grew to love the sport. Coming out of high school I was a non-qualifier which means you must go to a junior college first. This was not my ideal route into playing volleyball; my parent spent so much money for me playing club all through high school that I felt a bit embarrassed not being able to go to a Division 1.
My freshman year of college I spent at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, coached under Erin Mellinger, where I learned to love the junior college grind. We won the NJCAA national championship 2014, but my coach ended up leaving Blinn and I thought to myself “I can’t stay here under a brand new coaching staff.” I then transferred to College of Southern Idaho in Twin falls, Idaho, where Erin Mellinger used to coach and also the school we played in the semis during the NCJAA national championship tournament while at Blinn. Needless to say, it was a bold move.
I was coached under the great Heidi & Jim Cartisser and Keri Coats at The College of Southern Idaho (CSI) where I found the inner me as an athlete; I found who I am and what I can do with God’s given talent that he blessed me with. Heidi knew how to encourage, give confidence and most of all have that “go-getter” mentality I had no idea was in me on and off the court. She cared for me as a person first more than just a volleyball player. My sophomore year was definitely the highlight of my career; physically, emotionally and mentally. I got another ring as we were the 2015 NJCAA National Champions. I earned tons of awards this year with NJCAA Player of the Year, 1st team All-American, 3x player of the week and more. All awards aside, I met some of my best friends, had the best year of college and loved CSI. Junior college is only for two years and I knew that but I didn’t want to accept it. But my coaches were a tremendous help in getting me to the next level. Out of CSI I had 44 offers, and ended up committing to the University of Utah. There, I performed very well, earning all-American, 2x Pac-12 player of the week, 2x all-pac-12 team, most inspirational athlete and many more.
Now after college, I am pursing my career in professional beach volleyball where I have learned to absolutely love the sport and continue to learn more each day. I am very blessed and grateful for my journey, and am so eager to see where this professional path takes me.
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NJCAA National Champions 2014 and 2015
NJCAA Player of the Year
1st Team All-American
2x Pac-12 Player of the Week
2x All-Pac-12 Team