When freshman outside hitter Erin Fairs met her future teammates on an official visit to USF, she was excited and felt at ease in a place far from home.
Fairs came from Richmond, Texas, after recruitment by former USF coach Claire Lessinger. She had never even seen a Big East volleyball game, but immediately identified with how the Bulls approached the sport.
I loved the girls excitement, she said. Thats how Ive always been and I just wanted to be a part of that.
But impact athletics in college was not far from home at all.
Her father, Eric Fairs, played seven seasons in the NFL and her mother played college basketball. She said she learned the importance of playing hard and keeping a positive attitude from her parents, though they didnt push her to be an athlete.
I started volleyball on my own, she said. Nobody in my family ever played and it was almost shocking to them when I started.
Volleyball, she said, was a personal discovery.
She began the seventh grade on a horrible note, she said. But during her freshman year of high school, she realized volleyball might be her passion.
She said some told her she had the potential to be great only two years after beginning the sport as a B-team setter, and she began to gain confidence in her game.
Now entering her first season of Big East play, the 5-foot-11 freshman who ranks second on the Bulls with 2.33 kills per set through 14 games, still considers herself an unpolished player.
I expect to grow a lot, she said. Im still a raw player and there are things I need to know and the coaches are helping me out so much.
Fairs said if she started the sport at an earlier age like most of her teammates, she might have a better understanding of the game and be more efficient.
Maybe I wouldnt hit the ball as hard as I do, she said.
Coach Courtney Draper said she loves Fairs passion and excitement for the game.
At first, I didnt know how much she would play, but her approach to the game is great. Its so hard to keep her off the court, she said.
Thats exactly what Fairs set out to do.
This summer I just wanted to prove I belong on the court, she said. I have the mentality of Im a freshman but I cant act like it.
Fairs and the Bulls will play the Louisville Cardinals on Friday at 7 p.m. in the USF Sun Dome Corral.