By Jason Reed
Caitlin Bernardin already knows what it is like to be at a four-year school, this fall she will once again get that opportunity.
After a successful year at Bakersfield College, Bernardin will be headed to the Southeastern Conference and will be attending Alabama University. Back on April 17, she signed a letter of intent and made it official. “I’m getting more nervous as the time comes on,” Bernardin said when asked how she feels on joining the Crimson Tide. The road to Alabama wasn’t easy for Bernardin.
After graduating from Garces High School in 2011, Bernardin started attending Point Loma University and played volleyball there for one semester before transferring to Grossmont College in the spring of 2012.
“Point Loma is awesome, San Diego is awesome, and I really liked it. The people that I met there, the experiences I went through were definitely awesome.” When asked why she left San Diego, she [Bernardin] said it had a lot to do with her family.
“It was a choice I had to make for them. Overall I wasn’t happy, and that was a major impact. If you’re not going to do something that’s going to make you happy, then why are you there?” she said. Bernardin said because of family struggles, and also not wanting to hurt those she cared about, her decision to come back home was not based on the volleyball aspect of things.
“I didn’t want to hurt those I cared for in San Diego and in Bakersfield. I didn’t want them to be affected by my decision, and my decision was solely based on my family and happiness,” she said. “If I had the choice to stay there [Point Loma] all four years, I would have, but it just didn’t work out that way. I just had to make the choice for my family to leave.”
Bernardin then talked about her past experience in high school. “We were raised doing all different types of sports growing up,” she said.
In four years of playing volleyball at Garces High School, Bernardin helped her team post a 110-42 record. Bernardin averaged 264.5 kills and 347.5 digs per season with the Rams. Bernardin also led Garces to two straight Valley Championships in her freshman and sophomore year. She then won SEYL Rookie of the Year, SEYL First Team, All Area First and Second Team and was a four year Jockey Club recipient.
In 2010, she placed third in the Junior Olympics American Division in club volleyball. In 2011, she was voted second by the American Volleyball Coaches Association for BC and was ranked second in state with 4.89 kills per game. She also played basketball for Garces. In her senior year she averaged 17.2 points, 3.9 assists, 8.2 rebounds, and 4.4 steals per game, and was part of a 26-2 record. Those statistics were good enough to earn her a spot on the first team All-Area Girls Basketball selections in the 2010-2011 season.
Among the other sports Bernardin played growing up were softball and soccer. She chose to only play volleyball and basketball in high school.
“My sister played volleyball; I was raised going to volleyball tournaments and stuff. I didn’t actually start playing club volleyball until I was 12,”
Bernardin explained about her introduction to the sport of volleyball. When asked why she chose volleyball over basketball going into college, Bernardin said she like it [volleyball] a lot better.
Bernardin went on to talk about how much of an impact and influence her coaches have made on her as she prepares for the next step.
“I think I owe a lot of credit to them. They always inspired me and pushed me to my limits. They taught me stuff, on and off the court, which will translate later in life. I would say, more directing towards Carl [Ferreira], he probably had the most impact on me because he’s such a good person, coach and role model.”
In Bernardin’s first game as a Renegade last fall, she led BC with 18 points on 14 kills, four service aces and added 22 digs to cap it all off. She also helped the Renegades post 15-6 record, clinching a playoff berth, but fell in the third round of the So Cal Regional’s to Golden West College. Before that, BC was able to complete a three game sweep over Mt. San Antonio College.
Bernardin ran into her former school, Grossmont, in the team’s second game of the season last fall in the San Diego Mesa Tournament, with BC sweeping the set 3-0.
“From the beginning, I knew it would be a competitive match,” she said when asked what it was like playing Grossmont. Bernardin was then asked if there was a time she felt as if she should have been on the other side of the net, playing with Grossmont instead of BC.
“I felt like I was where I needed to be, and that was with my team here at BC. My team wanted to beat them just as bad as I did, to show that we are at such a high level of volleyball.” She said she did speak with Grossmont College head coach Jamie Ivers after the game.
Bernardin said she is really excited to be going to Alabama and wants to see what the experience is like being in a college town. She said while on her visit to Alabama, she went into a mini culture shock because it was her first time being in the south of the United States.
“I’m pretty much a country girl myself and the people there were so welcoming and comforting and they were really nice,” she said.
Bernardin said she hopes to help raise the level of volleyball at Alabama and be a model for the other girls there because they have a young team.
Bernardin then talked about how much her mom and dad meant to her, leading up to where she is now. “They’ve sacrificed a lot for me and they’ve never been too pushy. They have always wanted what was best for me. My mom, dad and sister have been like my rock for lying back on and being there through the hard times,” she said.
When asked about her thoughts on head volleyball coach of Alabama, Ed Allen, Bernardin said, “He’s very energetic. He’s really looking to build their program up and is really pumped for what’s to come. He’s just very down to earth.” Bernardin said she was glad she made the decision to come to BC. She said that she developed close friendships with the other girls on the team and is really glad she stuck with her choice to come back to Bakersfield and start over.
Bernardin said she enjoys fishing and hunting with her friends when away from volleyball. When asked what BC has done education wise, she believes the school has done a great job of challenging her and making her earn her grades. She also said she appreciated the works of Athletic Director Ryan Beckwith and the rest of the athletic department.
“The whole community here is very supportive and inspiring. I think that really helps athletes look forward to coming to school and going to practice,” she said.
Bernardin said when she arrives to Alabama, she will be looking forward to training and building relationships with her new teammates.