Getting to know your Rams: Rylee Wilson named to CIAA all-conference team

Rylee Wilson

Getting to know your Rams: Rylee Wilson named to CIAA all-conference team
October 27
16:28 2021

Rylee Wilson (5’9”)

– Setter (senior)

– Northwest Guilford High graduate (2018)

– Major: Rehabilitation Studies

It was almost a foregone conclusion that Rylee Wilson was going to play volleyball. Her mother played the sport and she grew up watching her sister, so when her time came to play sports, of course she also gravitated toward volleyball as well.

Wilson is a senior on the Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) volleyball team. Early on in her playing career, she wasn’t even thinking about playing college volleyball, but during her sophomore year in high school she began to garner more attention and that soon became a reality.

For most of her career, Wilson was a hitter. After her freshman season she was switched to the setter position. She says playing as a setter is much more of a mental game than being a hitter, because you have to be strategic about where to place the ball.

“I like being a setter better,” said Wilson. “For me, it’s more of a mental game than anything else. I feel like setting gives me more to think about and being more strategic and look at the game in a different way.”

Education was big for Wilson growing up. When deciding which college she was going to attend, it was important for the school to have the educational requirements she was looking for.

“When I was looking into becoming a collegiate athlete, I wanted to make sure that my educational portion was as high on my list as volleyball was and I felt Winston was the best fit for that,” she said about choosing a college. “Also, when I came for my visit, it was very homey and was a family environment.

“They worked with me, because a lot of other schools were not allowing me to do my original major, which was nursing, and play volleyball, and Winston was one of the schools that was going to let me do both. I kind of admired that they would let me pursue my educational goals and my volleyball goals.”

Wilson is a graduate of Northwest Guilford High School, but spent much of her early life in the state of Maryland. Northwest is one of the best high schools in the state and Wilson says her time there really prepared her for the rigors of college, on the court and in the classroom.

“I actually really enjoyed that school, so the transition to there was similar to how I already was in school,” she said. “Education was really high on our list and I know when my parents were looking for a school, that was the type of school they wanted. Something that was very educationally sound.

“So, I got a good piece of how hard I had to work in classes and learning how to teach myself. All the extracurricular activities and community service really prepared me for college really well.”

There were some growing pains that Wilson had to endure making the transition from high school to college sports. She quickly realized that everyone there played volleyball at a high level, but instead of looking at those early days as something negative, she used that to motivate her to get better.

“In high school, there’s like four or five good players on the team and everyone else is just out there to have fun, but in college, it’s like everybody was the best at their school, so the transition was definitely a little difficult in the beginning of my freshman year,” she says about her transition to playing college sports.  

“I actually liked it because it created a challenge, whereas in high school I already knew I was going to be on a certain level, but college made you have to work and get a little hunger back into your game. The transition was difficult freshman year, but after that, it was all good.”

Wilson was a very busy student in high school with playing sports, schoolwork, and her extracurricular activities, so it was not a tough adjustment to the college life for her. She has always had good time management skills, so finding time to get everything done is something she is used to.

The pandemic was another tough adjustment for Wilson. The limitations on practice time and working out was tough on Wilson and her teammates. The silver lining for her is that she is a coach for Twin City Volleyball Academy, so she was able to get her “touches” in. She is just happy she can get back into playing and end her career the way she wants.

When deciding on where she wanted to attend college, Wilson’s mother wanted her to attend an HBCU because she had attended one herself. Wilson says she wasn’t necessarily seeking out an HBCU, but saw it as a plus to attend one that also had addressed her educational needs.

Wilson was named to the preseason all-conference team for the CIAA. “I was really surprised, honestly,” she said. “I didn’t even realize until the middle of the day when my mom texted me. It was nice, but I am not one for the spotlight or getting awards, so it’s just nice to be recognized to know I helped my team in a way that it got me the accolade.”

So far this season, it has been up and down for the Rams’ volleyball team. Wilson is hoping to finish off the year on a positive note, especially with all the young players they have on the team.

“We have had a little bit of a rocky start, because I feel like it’s kind of like a rebuild year, because a lot of us are really young,” she said about the season.  “I definitely enjoy my team and wouldn’t change my team for anything, but it definitely has been a process, but a good learning process. I think it will help them after I am gone for next year.”

As one of the veterans on the team, Wilson likes to give words of wisdom and advice to the younger players on how to deal with adversity and the things she notices on the court.

“When I can, in practice I try to give a little wisdom on what can and can’t be done, because my coaches asked me to do that by taking more of a leadership role,” she stated.

To help get her mind off of playing, Wilson actually enjoys going to watch her sister play sand volleyball. She also enjoys hanging out with friends, watching Netflix, going to the movies, going bowling, or roller skating. Above all else, a good nap is what she enjoys most when not playing. 

“I am very simple, so any type of activity that allows me to get away for a second, I really enjoy,” she said. “I also really enjoy painting – I forgot to mention that – I paint a lot. That is kind of my escape from the busy life.”

Wilson plans to go to nursing school right after graduation. She enjoys working with individuals with substance abuse issues. She plans to obtain her nursing degree and would love to become a traveling nurse as a dream job.

Wilson realizes that her college career is quickly coming to an end. She looks back fondly on her time as a Ram and says she will miss it very much. She also would love to continue to coach volleyball in the future on the high school level or even assist on the collegiate level as well.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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