Spiking Into Management: Florida Gators Volleyball x Illy McCabe
Written by Shailey Klein (MC '21)
When Illy McCabe (MC ’20) was accepted to the University of Florida in the spring of 2020, she was determined to get involved in the sports industry as soon as possible. The rich volleyball history of the McCabe family runs deep, as McCabe’s mother, Gina (Jossie) McCabe, played volleyball at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Following her playing career, she coached and served as the Assistant Director for Metro Volleyball Club of DC. In addition, McCabe’s godfather, Barry Goldberg, is the Head Volleyball Coach at American University, and her godmother, Bonnie Goldberg, was the Club Director at Metro Volleyball Club of DC as well.
With encouragement and support from her mother and godparents, McCabe was inclined to pursue a position within the nationally prominent Florida Gators volleyball program. Thanks to former Florida standout setter and family friend Mackenzie Dagostino, McCabe was connected with Head Coach Mary Wise. Prior to even stepping foot on campus, McCabe secured the last available student manager position for the Florida volleyball team.
McCabe served as a manager throughout her freshman and sophomore years at UF. Due to COVID-19, the 2020-21 NCAA Women’s Volleyball season looked drastically different from a typical collegiate volleyball season. After working throughout the entire fall season, McCabe received a message over the holiday break informing the program that there would be a spring volleyball season. Working for the volleyball team was nonstop between the fall 2020 season, spring 2021 season, summer camps and fall 2021 season. Now that the team is in the off-season, McCabe can finally take a breather.
In season, during a typical week with a Saturday home game, McCabe was forced to drop all non-volleyball obligations, other than academics. The day before the match, the managers worked Florida’s practice as well as the away team’s practice. On match day, the managers reported to the arena four hours before the match starts for serve and pass warmups. After a pregame meal with the team, the managers worked during the match. Following the conclusion of the match, they stayed at the arena for approximately two hours. In addition, the managers traveled with the team for away games. Although the team traveled to iconic collegiate campuses across the country, there was little to no time for sightseeing. The team typically left Gainesville the day before the match and every moment was dedicated to preparation or study hall upon arrival.
Networking is the key to the sports industry, and the volleyball program gave McCabe the opportunity to explore and learn more about her career goals moving forward. Florida Associate Director of Volleyball Katie Callahan allowed McCabe to get a sneak-peak into the internal communications side of the volleyball program. McCabe was able to witness how public relations, sport management and sports journalism are all intertwined.
Throughout McCabe’s experience working with the Florida Volleyball team, she always was supported by her sisters in Chi Omega. Working for the Florida Volleyball team has its perks, including the luxury of two front row tickets to every home game that McCabe often graciously gave to her sisters.
“Every single game that I’ve had, someone from Chi O has been there” -- Illy McCabe
Over the course of the past year and a half, McCabe has dedicated countless hours to the Florida volleyball program. Having such a demanding job can become exhausting, challenging and even discouraging at times, having to repeatedly say no to other social events. McCabe felt the love and support of her sisters in Chi Omega every step of the way. McCabe mentioned, “Everyone is very, very supportive. If I ever need someone to grab me a plate from the house or if I miss a function or need a ride, they’re always there to help.”
One of the many beauties of the Chi Omega sisterhood is the far-reaching campus involvement. While McCabe worked for the volleyball team, she often would catch Josie Clancy (MC ’19) or Hanna Pasqualini (MC ’20) filming for GatorVision, or Ashlyn Saunders (MC ’20) working at the O’Connell Center. Chi Omega provides numerous connections across campus, opening up a plethora of opportunities. McCabe added that if a sister in Chi Omega is interested in an open position, there’s no hesitation to put her name in.