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Making Puerto Rico proud

CU’s own Fernand Morales qualifies for Puerto Rican national team
In June of 2023, Morales qualified for the Puerto Rican national team.

Starting libero for Campbellsville University’s (CU) men’s volleyball team, Fernand Morales, has always had the ambition to qualify for the Puerto Rican national team. In June, Morales accomplished just that at the 2023 NORCECA U21 Men’s Pan American cup held in Cuba.

From humble beginnings in Toa Alta Puerto Rico, Morales has always had a talent for volleyball, being a high caliber athlete in his high school and sending videos to recruiters.

CU Volleyball Coach Alfonso Alvarez saw video of Morales through a contact he had in Puerto Rico. Once they gave out personal information about him, they arranged a visit, and the rest was history.

Qualifying for the national team is hard, especially since there are a lot of divisions in the national league of volleyball, like 19 and under, or 21 and under. For Morales, it took two tries before he was finally able to play.

“I qualified for the national team for the first time after a first attempt in which I could not enter,” Morales said. “After that moment I told myself that I had to train hard because I wanted to represent my country. I trained hard and managed to qualify for my national team in the 19u division.”

Morales’ teammates and coaches talk highly of the Puerto Rican national team member. He is known for having a wired and electric personality. Morales also tries to give advice to his teammates on the way to games.

“When the team works out and Fernand comes into the gym we always go ‘there goes all mister peace and tranquility’,” said Alverez. “He just has this positive attitude and he’s like another assistant coach. He definitely helps the guys prepare to be better.”

Morales’ teammates also speak highly of him. Gehrig Mickels, a senior at CU and outside hitter for the Tigers, had a lot to say about his fellow teammate.

“It’s amazing to have a player from the national team of Puerto Rico as a teammate,” said Mickels. “The experience and talent he brings to the court really shows, and he helps us all improve our game.”

Achieving something great, especially in a sport, is a monumental part of people’s lives. Being able to qualify for his home country was an experience that Morales will never forget.

“I can’t express how I felt,” said Morales. “It’s a feeling that you don’t know what to say, it’s something you don’t understand. It’s something you only feel that you should go out and play to represent your country, your people and your flag and make everyone feel proud of that.”

Having qualified for his home country, it’s important for Morales to perform at his peak during volleyball matches.

“You want to do your best to bring happiness and the best to your country,” Morales said. “You really enter the court not only thinking that you represent your country, but that you are representing millions of people. And, for me, representing those people is a privilege and you want to make them proud and create smiles on their faces.”

It’s highly impressive at any age category to qualify for the Puerto Rican national team, as only six people can qualify.

“The path to the podium is what they call it,” said Alverez. “It basically means that you’re one step closer to the Olympics.”

Being a part of one of the greatest opportunities a volleyball player can have, there is no doubt that Morales has a great passion for the game.

“My favorite part about playing volleyball is getting to know my classmates and seeing volleyball not as a sport, but as a family,” said Morales. “Without a doubt, meeting different people from different countries and being able to love them as if they were my brothers and be there when they need it.”

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About the Contributor
Caleb Thomas
Caleb Thomas is a junior from Monroe, Ohio. He is majoring in mass communication with an emphasis in public relations. He is also a member of Campbellsville University's wrestling team. His hobbies include playing video games and writing. This is his first year reporting for The Campus Times.
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