Sept. 20, 2012
Emily Brown, a Baldwin City, Kan., native became the first player in KU volleyball history to reach the 1,000 mark in career kills, digs and assists. She finished in the top 10 on five career lists, including fifth in kills (1,168), total attempts (3,048) and games played (430), seventh in digs (1,034) and ninth in assists (1,107). The 6-2 Brown was also selected as the Big 12 Conference Player of the Week on Sept. 24, 2007, the first KU player to do so since Josi Lima on Sept. 19, 2005. She is currently playing professional volleyball in Puerto Rico. Brown followed in her mom (Jill [Huntsinger] Brown) and aunt’s (Jo Huntsinger) footsteps, as both also played at KU.
Growing up, how did you become interested in playing volleyball?
My mom actually played. She and her three sisters grew up in Lawrence and played volleyball in high school, so they all helped me become interested in the sport. Volleyball was just kind of always in the family. I played other sports too, but when it came time for college I chose to take the volleyball route.
Who is your biggest idol or influence in regards to your volleyball career?
I never really knew any famous volleyball players or anything like that, so I think it was just more all of my teammates I had growing up. They made it such a fun experience. I played with a lot of my friends and I met a lot of friends along the way. That’s something that always drew me to the sport, kept me going and kept me playing.
What made you decide to play for the Jayhawks?
I grew up in Baldwin City, so really close to Lawrence. I grew up a huge KU fan. Ever since I can remember my family and I were always watching basketball games and football games. In fact, in fifth grade, my mom let me decorate my room however I wanted, and I painted my walls blue and I made it all Jayhawks. So when it came time for college and I got the opportunity to play at Kansas, I took it.
What is the most memorable moment from your time at Kansas?
I have so many memories off the court with my teammates. But volleyball-wise, I always loved the rivalries. So beating K-State was a huge experience for me. Growing up a Jayhawks fan it was a big deal to beat them. Any rivalry game was always fun, like Missouri for example. And then of course the NCAA tournaments were all also good experiences as well.
What are you currently doing?
I’m still playing. I’ve been playing professionally in Europe and overseas. I’m about to start my fifth season pretty soon in January.
What is it like to play professionally in Europe?
My first season was in Slovakia, and then I played two years in France. Last year I played half of the season in Italy and then half in Puerto Rico. When I was done with school, it was nice to have a little bit of relief from volleyball. It was a lot of work playing in college for four years with year-round volleyball, so I needed to take a breather. My last season was in 2007, and then I had school until the following December. I left a year after my final season to go on a volleyball tour where I got picked up by a team in Slovakia.
At the start of the tour, I would scrimmage with a group of girls against some girls on European teams. There was always this guy there that would come and take video, and one day he came up to me and told me he wanted me on his team. So the next thing I know, I get in a car with this man I just met, who could barely speak English, and we drove for four hours through the Alps. And that’s basically how I started my (professional) volleyball career. Looking back I can’t believe I did that but it got my foot in the door and the next year I got a contract in France and played a full season there. I loved it.
My first year in France, I played and lived in the northwest corner of France in a town called Nantes where I fell in love with the French culture. The year after that I got lucky and got a contract with this team that was right by the French Riviera. It was just absolutely beautiful. My team had our ups and downs but life was pretty awesome living there. It really is one of the most beautiful places in the world and I was able to travel a little bit also, which was cool. Then the next year I got a contract in Italy, and halfway through the season I left there and got picked up by a team in Puerto Rico. Everything has turned out perfectly. I have the best of both worlds.
Do you ever make it make to Lawrence to watch volleyball games?
I do now! It’s been hard these last four years because in Europe the seasons last from August until May. It’s like a full school year, except just volleyball. But the Puerto Rico season is only January to May and so I’m here for the fall. This is the first fall I’ve been able to be here since I’ve finished school. I’ve been to two games so far. I’m really excited to get back and be supportive and watch the Jayhawks. I go back and forth from Baldwin City to Lawrence quite often. I work camps in the summer, so I work with the girls. It’s fun to see them actually play games and in their element, because I know them off the court more than on the court because I haven’t been able to be here during the season. It’s been a lot of fun being back, but when I’m not here, I try to keep up with the team via the internet.
Follow Brown’s professional career overseas: http://www.bringitusa.com/players/women/emilybrown/
Brown’s Kansas bio (senior, 2007): http://www.kuathletics.com/sports/w-volley/mtt/brown_emily00.html