Mia McGrath has been a part of the sports world since her childhood. Besides volleyball, she also tried out soccer, basketball, softball, tennis, swimming and diving, but her passion for volleyball is much more profound. Growing up with her mother and father, who played division one volleyball and football at Western Kentucky, sports were a big part of her identity. College athletics was always the goal for McGrath. Her affinity for volleyball started at a very young age. “When I was little, my mom actually put my footprints on a volleyball. I was born into it.”
Her mother has been her biggest role model through it all. McGrath notes that her mother always pushed her to be the best version of herself. After practices and games, her mom was always there to support her and even helped her get recruited by collegiate volleyball programs. At the age of eight, her mother would come home late after coaching volleyball and would find McGrath hitting a volleyball against the garage door in the dark. “Having a little volley mom was good for me.”
In the fourth grade, McGrath’s grade school, unfortunately, did not have a volleyball team, but this did not stop her from pursuing her passion. McGrath begged her grade school athletic director to make a fourth grade girls’ volleyball team; eventually, they caved into her request. Ever since she made that fourth-grade team, McGrath has been in love with volleyball.
Growing up surrounded by sports has had greater lasting effects on McGrath, more than just paying dividends in her athletic abilities. “Growing up as a very athletic kid and working hard every day, has made me a more confident person. Sports, in general, has made me become a better person.”
McGrath is happy to see more recognition given to female athletes today. She cites that female sports have become much more competitive since her mother’s volleyball tenure at Western Kentucky, which will hopefully draw in more fans. Even though she still notices there is a bigger fan base for male sports, McGrath notes that the culture around women’s sports is changing for the better.
Outside of her mother, McGrath has always looked up to Kerri Walsh Jennings. Jennings is an American professional beach volleyball player who has collected three Olympic gold medals and a one-time Olympic bronze medal and has the most career wins as of 2016, winning 135 international and domestic tournaments in beach volleyball during her career. McGrath used to play beach volleyball during her summers before college and always looked up to Jennings due to her immense success. “I wanted to be her (Jennings) one day.”
Since finishing her stellar freshman campaign with the Tigers, where she earned a spot on the All-ACC Freshman Team, McGrath has had an inspirational message that she wishes her younger self knew. “Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything that you are passionate about. Stay true to yourself. If you work hard, you can do anything.” Her words of encouragement will hopefully inspire the next generation of female athletes.