“The announcement was so sudden… I was at a loss for words…”

After a big win, Ryan Lew’s senior year volleyball season was cut short by COVID-19.

Two days after a big win against Penn State, the 10th-ranked team in the nation, I decided to get treatment on my shoulder before finals week hit. While I was in the Athletic Training Room, I was notified that one of my teammates had sent me an Instagram post. I opened it and began reading. It was a statement released by the NCAA canceling all of its winter and spring championships.

17 January 2020: UC San Diego men’s volleyball tea beat UCLA in 3 sets Friday night at Rimac Arena (Credit: Derrick Tuskan/UC San Diego)

Since the announcement was so sudden, in the moment, it had not dawned on me that my collegiate volleyball experience was over. I was at a loss for words. I read the post three or four times before realizing that my senior year season had come to an end.

Being born and raised in San Marino, a small suburban town outside of Los Angeles, I had surprisingly very little knowledge about the university that was located two hours south of me in La Jolla. The only things I knew were that there’s a Division 1 volleyball team, the school has a strong background in science and research, and the city has amazing weather.

As a senior in high school, two things constantly passed through my mind:  graduation and college. I wasn’t too sure what to think or how to feel. One chapter of my life was ending and a new chapter was soon to begin. I knew I wanted to continue my education at a place that would help me accomplish my lifelong dream of becoming a physician. After a visit to UC San Diego and many Google searches later, I decided this was going to be home for the next four years.

17 January 2020: UC San Diego men’s volleyball tea beat UCLA in 3 sets Friday night at Rimac Arena (Credit: Derrick Tuskan/UC San Diego)

Since my time as an undergraduate is dwindling, I can confirm that there is more to UC San Diego than a volleyball team, a university with a strong science background, and amazing weather. I have learned so much and I believe I have matured exponentially over the past four years. I was able to enjoy college by balancing athletics with academics, meeting genuine people, and exploring La Jolla and the surrounding beaches. The connections I have made during my time at this university are priceless. I am proud of my accomplishments and I can confidently state that I would not be the same person I am today if I did not decide to attend UC San Diego.


Ryan Lew is a senior libero and human biology major on the men’s volleyball team. In 2020, the UC San Diego captain played in all 71 of the team’s sets. In late January, Lew was named the Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Week. He earned Big West All-Academic honors as a sophomore and junior.

This story first appeared in the online series, “In Their Own Words,” by UC San Diego Athletics.

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