Clifton remains positive despite slow start for Eckerd Tritons

Freshman beach volleyballer keeps working hard on new skills

Jennifer Clifton volleys the ball at Eckerd College practice. The first-year player has started 0-6 but sees brighter days ahead. CONNOR REID/TORONTO OBSERVER

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Eckerd College beach volleyball freshman Jennifer Clifton’s slow start will not affect her attitude on the court.

Even with a record of 0-6, she’s staying positive.

“It’s just a matter of staying relaxed,” said Clifton, last week at the Tampa Bay area school, “and actually doing the action rather then just being anxious or nervous and messing up on the pass.”

So far this season, she and her partner, Cortina Green, have struggled in their matches but Clifton believes they will turn it around.

“You have to stay positive and pick each other up because we know we can hit our spots,” she said.

Clifton is a native of Allentown, Pa., and after her personal trainer told her about Eckerd College and showed her pictures of the campus, she knew it was the place for her.

“I fell in love with it, the program and everything that was going on,” she said.

Before Eckerd, Clifton had played only indoor volleyball, but when the Tritons’ coaches said she was going to play beach as well, the Keystone State native was up for the challenge.

One of the biggest differences between the outdoor and indoor games is the number of players. Having only two on the beach – there are six on an indoor court – makes having a connection a key.

“There’s a lot of communication in both,” said Clifton. “But I would say beach volleyball has a lot more because its either you or your partner touching the ball.”.

Jennifer Clifton is learning the ropes as a Freshman with the Tritons. CONNOR REID/TORONTO OBSERVER

Running on sand is a lot tougher, too. And one of the Environmental Studies major’s main goals this season is to get faster on it.

“We like to push ourselves so we can get stronger, especially in the legs, and get used to running at certain speeds on the sand,” she said.

As a team, Eckerd College has won its past four matches.  Clifton has the confidence in the Tritons’ ability to adapt and succeed.

“I feel like we are so versatile and are able to play with each other that if there was ever a situation that we needed to be teamed with a different partner, we would be the hardest workers out on the court to get what needs to be done,” Clifton said.

About this article

Posted: Mar 17 2020 9:04 pm
Filed under: College NCAA Sports Volleyball