It’s been two years since Sarah Parsons (formerly Wilhite) left the University of Minnesota and embarked on a professional volleyball career. The outsider hitter has embraced the fast pace of a career which mostly consists of living out of a suitcase – and it shows no sign of slowing down.
When Parsons left the Gophers in 2017, she joined Busto Arsizio in Italy’s Serie A1, where fellow countrywoman Michelle Bartsch-Hackley played, helping them finish third in her debut pro season.
The 23-year-old Minnesotan then moved to Germany to play with Allianz Stuttgart, where she won the Bundesliga championship after a hard-fought five-game series against SSC Palmberg Schwerin.
“Stuttgart had a very successful year,” said Parsons, reflecting on her time in Germany. “We qualified for Champions League where we were able to play alongside the best teams in Europe. We travelled to places like Turkey, France and Italy to compete.
“We made it to the quarter-finals where we lost to the Italian team, Novara – who ended up champions. Our biggest success was winning the German League. It was an exhausting finish to the year, but we were all so happy to be travelling home as German champions!”
Italy like the Big 10
On the differences between playing in Germany and Italy, the former Big 10 Player of the Year admitted the Bundesliga is “not as competitive” but insisted the level of play in Germany was “challenging”.
“Germany was a great place to play. From top to bottom, the league is not as competitive as Italy, however, I’d say the competition within the top five teams in Germany is very strong and challenging.
“Italy reminded me of the Big 10, where any team could win on any given night. It’s common in Italy for the one of the lower teams to beat one of the top. This is less common in Germany.”
While in Germany, Parsons linked up with former college teammate Paige Tapp who she described as “one of my best friends”, which made settling down in unfamiliar surroundings an “easier” transition.
Germany’s beauty surprising
“Germany was absolutely beautiful— it surprised me in so many ways. The most memorable part of my time there (outside of volleyball) was the Christmas markets.
“All over Germany, the markets were set up for over a month around the holiday season. It was a great time to try new foods, explore new towns, and spend time with my teammates.”
Despite a full-on campaign with Stuttgart, her season did not end in Germany as she joined up with the national squad to compete in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
“After my German season ended, I flew straight to California to train with the USA women’s national team,” Parsons told GopherSports.com.
“I was in the California for three days before flying to the first week of VNL with the team. It will be a busy summer for USA and I am excited to be a part of it!”
However, it appears that her stay in Stuttgart may be a short one as plans have already been put in place for next season, as she looks to impress USA coach Karch Kiraly ahead of the Olympics in Tokyo.
“Next year I will be playing in Brazil! My team for the 2019/2020 season is Sesi Vôlei Bauru.”