The Fresno Pacific volleyball team wrapped up its regular season this weekend, with wins at home Friday and Saturday. Before both matches, and in fact, before every home match in 2018, the national anthem was sung by a Sunbirds player.
Before Jaalyn Sotoa-Stuebing spikes the ball, the Fresno Pacific freshman picks up the microphone.
She's belted the national anthem before every Sunbirds home match this season.
“I love singing," Sotoa-Stuebing says. "I sing all the time. People have to tell me to stop singing, that’s how much I sing.”
Sotoa-Stuebing started performing the anthem her senior year of high school, which caught the eye of Tracy Ainger-Schulte while recruiting.
FPU's head coach says, "We’ve been trying to find singers around campus because I think it brings a little more meaning to that national anthem – so, when I knew she could do it, I said, ‘you got the job for the next four years.’”
While it's not unheard of for a player to sing the national anthem before a game, it's certainly not something you see often.
“I think it’s special," says Sotoa-Stuebing. "And I get to share it with everybody else and I think that’s really a blessing and a great opportunity.”
Senior teammate Hannah Miller adds, "it’s a big reflection moment and so to hear your own teammate I think is empowering as well because she’s out there competing with us on the court. And especially when we play for God out here, having someone that talented to sing I think is even more remarkable.”
Sotoa-Stuebing also started for FPU in this, her first year on campus. The San Diego native is already one of the team's statistical leaders.
Her coach says she plays with a lot of confidence. So, no nerves - during the game, or before it.
"Sometimes I switch keys just to try to be different," says Sotoa-Stuebing. "But other than that I think that it’s good to keep it in the same format that it’s supposed to be sang. I don’t add too many riff raffs or stuff like that I just like plain and simple I guess.”