ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Freshman Dana Dull is laughing and goofing around with her teammates. It’s an off-day on the beach.
Despite the happy face, the Cleveland native has been unable to play beach volleyball for Eckerd College while recovering from the second of two shoulder surgeries to fix a torn labrum.
The first injury occurred in the 2018 Ohio Regional semifinals during her senior year of high school. She tore it in the first set but played through it before having surgery a month later, in December.
It happened again after her recruitment to Eckerd College. It was in the middle of the indoor season and again she played through the match. She underwent the second surgery weeks later, last December.
Despite the setbacks, she intends to hold nothing back when she can compete again next season.
“I’m trying to be really optimistic about it,” Dull said. “And having that mindset that ‘It’s going to be fine, it’s going to be good.’ And, honestly, focusing on being optimistic has helped me a lot. So, no, I am not really scared about it because it’s going to be okay.”
Originally recruited as a player in both indoor and beach volleyball, Dull is making the transition to solely the beach game next season. It’s the same sport, but with subtle differences in strategy.
“I had to focus on where the other hitters were going to hit (in indoor),” Dull said, “to put myself in the right position. Now I have to focus on putting myself in the right position and then getting ready to hit a ball to where they’re not going to be, or hitting it to their weaker defender.
“So, there’s a lot more involved in beach.”
Dull is living far from home but credits her teammates for helping her deal with homesickness and injuries.
“The team’s really supportive about it because we all know what it’s like. So, honestly, it couldn’t have been any better.”
As for next season, “My goal is to just work my butt off during off-season in the summer,” Dull said with a smile, “doing a bunch of tournaments, just basically getting as strong as I possibly can, and in the best shape ever (to) come back stronger than I was before.”