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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Becoming a Wildcat wasn’t easy for Torres

Turki+Allugman%2FArizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AShaquillah+Torres%2C+No.+22%2C+and+the+UA+volleyball+team+play+against+TCU+in+McKale+Center+on+Friday%2C+Sept.+7%2C+2012.
Turki Allugman/Arizona Daily Wildcat Shaquillah Torres, No. 22, and the UA volleyball team play against TCU in McKale Center on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012.

Shaquillah Torres’ path to becoming a Wildcat wasn’t an easy one. Torres and her brother Maurice, who plays volleyball at Pepperdine, grew up in a deaf household.

Because of that, her parents taught Maurice and Shaquillah how to communicate with more than words, preparing her to deal with any adversity thrown her way.

“My parents had to work hard for where they are,” Torres said. “Overcoming adversity is a huge thing I’ve learned from my parents. Just from them being deaf and realizing that that’s OK, you know it’s not everything.”

Torres admitted that it was not always easy and that people did not always understand their predicament. Seeing her parents, who both participated in the Deaflympics, work hard their entire lives has always motivated Torres to succeed.

Adversity has followed Torres throughout her life. In order to attend high school in Orange County, Calif., she had to wake up at 4 a.m. every morning to catch a train for a 45-minute ride to school from her home in Riverside. Her brother, who also wanted to make a career out of volleyball, joined her.

What was her reason for going to such a far away school? The high school in Riverside did not offer a volleyball program, so they were forced to make the commute.

Torres often spent the night at teammates’ homes so she would not have to make the trip home every night. The volleyball program at Orange Lutheran High School offered an opportunity the two siblings could not turn down.

Marc Laulhere, Orange Lutheran High School volleyball head coach, was a benefactor of Torres’ dedication to volleyball.

“Shaq came to us her sophomore year and we were just so lucky to have her,” Laulhere said. “She is one of those athletes that is extremely coachable and just has great work ethic.”

“I think it gave me an edge,” Torres said. “I know sign language and that’s always an icebreaker type of thing. I love the fact that I know it and that I have that communication and that special bond with my parents.”

During her junior year in high school, Torres suffered from a torn meniscus. She was ready to give up her volleyball dream. She made the choice to fight through the injury, and so far it’s worked out just fine.

“She sort of flew under the radar while she played for us, but after her injury she just got stronger and better,” Laulhere said.

By that time, Arizona head coach Dave Rubio already had Torres on his radar. Discovering the interest from a college coach like Rubio, coupled with the prodding of her high school coaches, motivated Torres to keep her volleyball career going forward.

At Arizona, Torres is emerging as one of the most impactful freshmen on the court. The athleticism that runs in the Torres family is just a small part of what, Laulhere says, makes Torres a one-of-a-kind athlete. He said it’s her humbleness on the court and her ability to get along with anyone that makes her a favorite among both players and coaches.

“A lot of who I am and what I do especially in volleyball comes from the communication skills I have acquired,” Torres said.

In the end, all the lessons she’s learned from her parents and her experiences with the injury in high school have helped her become the volleyball player she is today.

“Things work out in funny ways. Like with my knee, I didn’t want it to work out and it ended up making me a stronger person,” Torres said. “Just pushing through it has really made me who I am.”

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