As we wrap up Hispanic Heritage Month here on the Forty Acres, we leave you with the story of Melanie Parra. You may recognize her from many of her viral in game volleyball clips or from her time on the Mexican national team. Here at Texas, she’s a key factor in our nationally ranked (number one, may I add) volleyball squad’s success. However, this conversation was based very little on Texas, and more on what makes Melanie, Melanie. 
Parra is a proud Mexican, and the pride she holds in her culture and her values shine through each of her responses. For instance, when asked about what her culture means to her, Parra said, “I love my culture. I’m so proud of being Mexican. It’s something I am not ashamed of. I love my culture, my people, and where I came from. It is in my veins.” 
If you’ve been around athletes, it’s not uncommon for athletes to claim that their immense talent is simply “in their veins,” but for Parra, it wasn’t volleyball that was running through her veins as a child. She talked about what drew her interest instead as a child, “When I was little, I was into jazz and loved it. My older sister was the one who wanted to play volleyball. So my mom put both of us in a small league to learn and play the game. I remember there were so many times I would beg my mom not to take me because I didn’t like it. I wanted to go to jazz. I fell in love with the game about one year after I started, around the age of six or seven. If it wasn’t for my sister, I would not be in the position I am today.” 
After falling in love with the sport, there was no turning back for Parra. One of the greatest qualities sports has is its ability to teach athletes lessons they may find trouble learning in other ways. When watching Parra play, the level of confidence that shines through is high. It’s difficult to imagine someone with her talent and ability feeling intimidated by anyone, but she shared that that wasn’t always the case for her, “The biggest lesson volleyball has taught me was to be confident in myself. I remember when I was 15, I got selected to play for the national team. These girls had 10 years under their belts of playing in the league, I was the youngest, and I was so intimidated. I remember traveling overseas, and it was teams like Japan, Korea, and international teams I had to play against. One of my teammates got injured, and I was taking her place. Little 15-year-old me was scared and overwhelmed because I knew these hits were not going to be like in the 15u league. They were going to leave bruises. The more I started to play, the more comfortable I became. Two games later, I started, and it taught me to have faith in myself. As long as I put in all my hard work, I know it will pay off.” 
Speaking of hard work, Parra believes that it doesn’t take much other than hard work, trust, and confidence to become a great volleyball player. When asked about the advice she’d offer young girls that look up to her, Parra kept it short and sweet and said, “I would say never give up. Just know as long as you keep putting in the hard work, it will all pay off. Trust yourself and be confident.” And at the end of the day, that’s what sets Parra apart. It’s one thing to work hard, but it’s another to remain confident even when things aren’t going your way. What Parra has shown is that the confidence you have in yourself is the most important confidence you can have.




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