Toni Rodriguez Bio
I’m a southern girl from small town St. Amant, Louisiana. I grew up playing multiple sports including softball, basketball, and track and field but never volleyball. When getting to high school, I was approached at summer workouts by the volleyball coach, Allison Leake. She asked me how tall I was and if I wanted to play volleyball. This was the start of my amazing volleyball journey.
I ended up trying out for the volleyball team during a summer practice. I did not know how to do anything and if you ask the girls that were there, they would probably say I looked like a baby giraffe. I picked up on the game quick and began playing varsity my freshman year. I only got better over the years and really got to start developing my game. I decided that I wanted to play college volleyball after getting invited to a High Performance USA camp the summer going into my junior year. I played for a couple different volleyball clubs in Louisiana including: Bayou Bandits, Louisiana Volleyball, and VIA (Volleyball Institute of America). It wasn’t until the summer going into my senior year that I got heavily recruited. I knew I wanted to play for a Division one (D1) school and for the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
I wasn’t recruited much by Louisiana State University (LSU) but I did take an unofficial visit and met with Head Coach, Fran Flory. I was recruited by New Mexico State University and the University of Tennessee. After weighing the pros and cons, I decided that I wanted to become a Volunteer, but little did I know God had a different plan.
Going into my senior year, we were favored to win the state championship for the first time in program history. In the third game of my season, that all changed. I remember transitioning off the net to get ready to hit on the outside against Mount Carmel, reining state champions. In the blink of an eye, I was down and in excruciating pain. A week later, I found out I tore my ACL and my meniscus. A week after finding out about my season ending injury, Tennessee called my parents and informed them that they were pulling my scholarship.
I was lucky enough to reconnect with Fran Flory at LSU and ask her if I could join her team. I walked on at LSU my first year and I also redshirted due to coming off my injury. The next year I was given a scholarship, which is what I was promised. That same year I went through another ACL surgery but on the opposite knee. This time around I felt overly prepared and ready to kickbutt in my rehab, but I ended up developed a bad infection post surgery. This landed me in the hospital for a week and set me back majorly in my rehab process. Once I finally recovered from my injury, which took 9 months, I was able to prove myself out on the court after major adversity. I was then given a scholarship for my last two year on the indoor team, which was a huge blessing.
As my indoor career ended, I was so excited because I finally got the opportunity to cross over to the sand. I was going to cross over to the beach my redshirt freshman year but with my injury it wasn’t possible. My first season of beach was amazing and I fell in love with the game instantly. With my crazy story and injuries, I was able to apply for a medical redshirt through the NCAA. I was granted my 6 year of eligibility June 2019. I was ready to compete for a national championship in 2020, when COVID-19 hit. When season ended, I was very devastated, but luckily was granted my COVID year back and during quarantine I decided to go ahead and have shoulder surgery.
This surgery was very different from my knee surgeries and it definitely was a process. I had a partially tear in my rotator cuff due to overuse, that’s why keeping your shoulder strong and healthy is important. In the Fall of 2020, I played the whole offseason left handed. I knew I needed the reps, so I made it work. I recovered my shoulder by the time season rolled around and I was able to compete. The fairytale ending of winning a national championship for LSU was not accomplished, but so many other things were.
I’m now the famous 7th year. I graduated from LSU with a Bachelor's in Kinesiology with a concentration in Physical Activity and Health, a Master's in Kinesiology with a concentration in Pedagogy and Psychological Sciences, and a Master's in Leadership and Human Resource Development. After competing at NCAA’s this year, I knew I wasn’t done with this sport. I have official decided to pursue a professional beach volleyball career. I’m currently living in California and I'm so excited to experience something new. I plan to keep you guys updated through my journey! My professional career is the major reason for creating Level Up Volleyball, so I can keep impacting the volleyball world in a positive way even if I’m not in Louisiana.
I’m currently on the search for sponsorships. If you are interested in sponsoring me or want to make a donation, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.