Former Jayhawk Mayfield to play professional volleyball in France
- Sep. 11, 2012
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The day after seeing her former Jayhawk volleyball teammates at the Crimson and Blue match, 2012 Kansas graduate Allison Mayfield left the country to begin her new life as a professional volleyball player in France.
Mayfield, who holds the Jayhawks’ single season kills record with 462, signed a one-year contract to play for CSM Clamart in Clamart, France, a suburb of Paris.
“I submitted video of me playing to my agent, who then put it online,” Mayfield said via email. “Teams that are interested in picking up new players then go online and check out the videos for prospective players.”
Besides Clamart, Mayfield received offers from teams in Hungary, Southern Finland and Cyprus. She said she chose Clamart because they offered the best contract and living in France appealed to her. Although Mayfield arrived in France less than a month ago, she said Clamart has a homey feeling and most places she needs to go are within walking distance.
“Not having to work or take class outside of playing allows for a lot of free time, but I am finding fun ways to fill that free time exploring and experiencing a country that is new to me,” Mayfield said.
Mayfield majored in exercise science because she wanted to become a physical therapist when she finished playing. However, she said playing professionally was always her goal.
“But unlike becoming a professional basketball or football player, it is not about all the money and fame playing professional volleyball,” Mayfield said. “I am playing because I love playing volleyball and was not ready to be completely finished. Getting paid to play and being able to see parts of the world that I otherwise may not be able to see are added bonuses.”
The biggest difference between collegiate volleyball in the United States and international volleyball is the substitution rule. In college, teams may substitute 15 times per set. Internationally, teams may substitute only six times per set.
Kansas coach Ray Bechard said that if people watched the United States’ Olympic team last summer, they saw players who were able to play six positions on the court because of the substitution rules. Although collegiate players typically specialize in positions, Mayfield played all positions on the court in college, which made her appealing to professional teams.
Redshirt junior Catherine Carmichael said the Jayhawk team is different this year because they don’t have a player as versatile as Mayfield. Because the substitution rules in college are more relaxed, however, it allows the team members to work on specializing their positions more.
“Mayfield was a six-rotation player, and Sara (McClinton, sophomore outside hetter) and I aren’t at that spot yet,” Carmichael said. “But we have people who come in for us. I think with Sara and I giving good offense, then when we go out we can depend on our defenders to come in and play good defense for us as well.”
To play professional volleyball, Mayfield had to travel overseas because no national volleyball league exists in the United States. Mayfield said interest in collegiate volleyball might be the first step in getting a professional volleyball league started.
“You just don’t see too many collegiate teams where volleyball is a revenue sport,” Mayfield said. “You do have some exceptions, like Nebraska, who sells out every match every year, but in general not enough people support collegiate volleyball, so that would be the first step.”
Bechard credited the Olympics with creating awareness about a lack of a professional league in the United States. He said there’s a serious push to get a volleyball league started in the United States, but money will be the factor.
“In the late ’90s Bill Kennedy out of Chicago made an attempt, and he had a lot of money, and he lost quite a bit of money,” Bechard said. “I think the players need to probably make some sort of salary, which means you need to get some form of sponsorship in place.”
Not only was Mayfield the Jayhawks’ single season kills leader, she also finished as the Jayhawks’ single season and career leader in total attempts. Carmichael said Mayfield was a special player because of her ability to get critical points.
“I think her presence is something that people looked for, for maybe just energy and being able to go to her for that one — if you needed a kill on game point — that one person you could depend on,” Carmichael said.