Junior Jocelyn Kuilan spent the summer playing on the Puerto Rican national volleyball team
For most college students, summers involve part-time jobs, hanging out with friends and maybe taking a summer class. But for Towson University junior volleyball player Jocelyn Kuilan, her summer involved playing against some of the best volleyball players in the world.
Kuilan spent the summer playing for the Puerto Rican National Volleyball Team during this summer’s 25th annual FIVB World Grand Prix — one of the biggest international volleyball tournaments in the world. The junior outside hitter practiced with the team over the summer, and played in the team’s first round of games between July 7-9.
It’s not Kuilan’s first international experience, as she has played for Puerto Rico’s junior national volleyball teams. But this summer was the first with the country’s senior squad.
“I’m super proud of what I’m doing, because there are people I’m playing with who have played in the Olympics,” Kuilan said. “I’m just learning step-by-step next to them and trying to become a better player.”
Kuilan is originally from Toa Baja, which is a little over 15 miles away from Puerto Rican capital of San Juan. She also has the distinction of being the youngest player on the team at the age of 19 — something she is used to as she was only 17-years old when she started her career at Towson University.
“Being the youngest one on the team, they know I have a high level of potential” Kuilan said. “It’s great because they have given me a lot of advice and encouragement. If I’m doing something wrong, they are always there to step up and tell me, and to help me get better.”
Kuilan’s potential has been fully on display during her time at TU. As a sophomore, she earned First Team All-Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) accolades. She also earned second team honors in her freshman year. She’s been named to three in-season all-tournament teams, and was ranked in the league top ten in kills, aces and points.
“Jocelyn is an outstanding attacker with the ability to hit the ball with both range and pace,” Metil said. “Anytime an athlete has an opportunity to represent their country, I feel it’s an incredible experience that can't be passed up. The invitation alone is humbling, but to actually get the ‘call’ from your coach to enter the match and earn playing time for your country is invaluable.
“Jocelyn’s ability to play on the World League stage is a learning opportunity for all of us. She can bring her experiences to TU and we can all grow from her knowledge, training, and tactical applications she learned while with the Puerto Rican National Team.”
Unfortunately for Kuilan, her World Grand Prix tournament experience had to end early because she had to return to summer classes here at TU.
But while she enjoys playing internationally, she admits she couldn’t wait to get back to campus.
“I was ready to come back,” Kuilan laughed. “I love Towson. I fell in love with Towson when I came and visited for the first time. Being at TU lets me be in my own world. I don’t have to depend on my parents, I can just do me.”
And while she likes to just do her, that doesn’t stop her parents from visiting. Her parents have come to see her play every year she’s been at TU, and will be visiting campus again in September.
“My parents were more in love with Towson than I was,” Kuilan said. “The colleges in Puerto Rico are not as pretty as TU, and when they got here on my visit, they just fell in love with it. From SECU Arena to the facilities, everything has just been amazing.”
Along with her work on volleyball court, Kuilan has been putting in work in the classroom as a foreign languages major. In fact, it was her experience playing internationally that developed her love of languages.
She currently speaks Spanish and English and is hoping to conquer French, Portuguese, and few others while at TU. After her volleyball career is over, she would like to work as a translator, while still continuing to travel across the world.
As for on the court, Metil sees Kuilan being a huge part of the Tigers’ game plan this season.
“I expect her to be one of our ‘go-to’ hitters and for her to surface as of one the top attackers and point producers in the CAA,” Metil said. “She has the ability to perform at a high level on a weekly basis which should allow her to garner some player of the week accolades which could eventually lead to post season honors.”
After the fall semester, Kuilan is planning to return to Puerto Rico over winter break and train with the national team — but she won’t play in any tournaments. And when her career at TU is over, she would like to continue to play internationally and even try to play professionally.
“I don’t want to be someone who gives up volleyball after they are done with college,” Kuilan said. “I’m obsessed with volleyball and I want to keep doing it, including playing professionally and playing in the Olympics.”