As a transfer student, this player has stepped onto the scene, and physically speaking, everyone has noticed. She’s pretty hard to miss. At six feet and four inches, she’s listed as the tallest player on the roster. Hailing from the Netherlands, Marjolijn Oskam comes to USF from Xavier University looking to be an impact player on the volleyball team as one of the middle blockers. Oskam, although a junior, has three more years of playing eligibility, including this current year.
Growing up, Oskam had the chance to meet Ingrid Visser, a Dutch volleyball player who was also a middle blocker. The experience of meeting one of the best player in the world and one of her favorite players of all-time left her speechless. When trying to explain blocking, Visser had never thought twice about it. Oskam said, “Her blocking just looked so gracious. She helped me a little bit with blocking and with wrist motion in my attack.” The other thing Visser talked about with Oskam was how she was never selected to go to big tournaments but kept working. Hearing that from Visser encouraged Oskam to continue working hard until she found success.
Oskam initially wanted to play collegiate volleyball because there is no such thing in her home country. She wanted to get a higher education, while at the same time playing the sport she loves. A liaison company help put out her highlight tapes and she found her way to Xavier after fielding a few offers. Though the culture shock was a hurdle, she appreciated how big of a role sports play in the U.S. The love and importance of sports was bigger here than back in the Netherlands. She had prior knowledge of English, but wasn’t fully comfortable, definitely not as comfortable as she is now. All her family was back home, so she found comfort in her teammates.
After coming to USF from Xavier, the volleyball transition wasn’t hard, and she was granted three more years of playing eligibility. The Ohio to San Francisco transition was one she found refreshing. The diversity of people, the various international students and student stories, how everyone is free to express themselves and the open-mindedness of the city were all things that helped her adjust to a brand new city. On top of that, she fell in love with the coaching staff.
In San Francisco, Oskam has loved making use of her MUNI pass and exploring the city. She loves finding hole-in-the-wall food places and hidden gems of street art. Oskam is also quite the creative person; she enjoys DIY projects and arts and crafts. She’s also no stranger to video games and board games; Rayman Legends and Catan are some of her favorites. She doesn’t get too homesick, but when she does, she’ll Skype her parents. The nine hour time difference isn’t too bad. She’s made it a goal to find a Dutch community in San Francisco, and hopefully find a place to celebrate King’s Day, the birth of King Willem-Alexander. Her life in San Francisco has been filled with delightful surprises and constant discovery.
So far this season the Dons have struggled, but Oskam looks on the positive side. “We’re a very young team that sometimes shows on the court. But we’re making a lot of progress,” she said. She looks towards improving all the way until next season because they’ll be able to keep a core group of people together, especially considering that there were only three returners coming into this season.
After her collegiate career at USF, she plans to pursue her master’s degree, but is unsure of where at. If the opportunity were to present itself, she would take full advantage of the chance to play professionally back in Europe. She’s also hoping she’ll get the chance to represent her home country. “I dream to be on the Olympic team, to win that gold medal,“ she said.
With three games left in the season, all WCC matchups at home, the Dons are looking to finish their season strong. Their next game is Thursday, Nov. 17 against BYU at 7 p.m. Be sure to go out and support San Francisco at the Sobrato Center at War Memorial or follow live on theW.tv.
Photo Credits: Dons Athletics/ Flickr