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A Tale of Two Passions

For quite a long time, Smith sophomore Mikal Minarich has been volleying two passions—competing on volleyball teams since the third grade and writing stories and jotting poetry, also since her early elementary years.

Now, as a student-athlete, Minarich is a starter on the Smith volleyball team—playing the position of setter/hitter—and, as an English major, she writes mindful stories about well-developed characters, to satisfy both her coursework and her own desire to write.

“Writing is so much fun for me right now,” says Minarich. “I express myself really well on paper. It’s a passion. I can open up and say things the way I feel.”

Then again, notes Minarch, she also immensely enjoys volleyball, especially the team camaraderie it provides.

“Everyone gets to know everyone else,” she says. “Our team is very unified. That really helped me my first year. And I like the fast pace of the game, and the hitting—that’s a big part of it for me.”

As a writer, Minarich prefers creating short stories—“I enjoy getting my point across in a short amount of time”—about people in intense situations: an Irish girl in a bygone era who avenges her grandfather and becomes Queen of Eire; an autistic teenage girl who cannot talk or move; a young girl who becomes homeless.

“I like to put myself in other people’s shoes,” Minarich says. “A lot of characters just come to me. I often think, ‘What might they be thinking?’”

Some of the drama surrounding her protagonists may be derived from the tales told to her while she was growing up. Her grandmother was very forthcoming with stories about her brother, a veteran of the Vietnam War, Minarich remembers. And her neighbor, a survivor of the Holocaust, was open in imparting recollections about her ordeal.

Minarich submits her work to the online Web site to solicit reader responses. “I’ve received good and bad feedback,” she says. “I take it into consideration with my future writing.”

She is practical about the challenges of succeeding as a writer. “I’m a little nervous about the future,” she says, “because I know how hard it is to become a writer. Maybe I’ll just have a job and write on the side.”
For now, she is happy to be at Smith, for all the support and encouragement she gains here and the knowledge she reaps from classes on Shakespeare and What Jane Austen Read.
Meanwhile, she continues to immerse herself in her two passions—writing stories, hitting the volleyball.

10/23/07   By Eric Sean Weld
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