This story is part of a series highlighting women in athletics at the University.
Volleyball star Beau Vanderlaan ’25 — a two-time First Team All-Ivy selection and the 2021 Ivy League Rookie of the Year — started her athletic career kicking soccer balls. Not until seventh grade, when her best friend suggested they try playing volleyball together, did Vanderlaan switch from scoring goals on the field to recording kills on the court.
But volleyball was not as easy for Vanderlaan then as she makes it seem now.
“I was so terrible,” Vanderlaan said. “In my freshman year of high school, my coach called me ‘Bambi on ice’ because I was so uncoordinated. But I just loved it, kept working at it and it worked out.”
In Vanderlaan’s first year at Brown, she tied a program record with an Ivy League-leading .390 hitting percentage. Her efforts earned her unanimous Rookie of the Year honors in 2021 and the First Team All-Ivy selection, and helped the team capture their first Ivy League title in 20 years.
“My freshman year was an absolute dream,” she said.
Even before Vanderlaan’s rookie campaign, teammate Sophia Miller ’23 already knew Vanderlaan would be a valuable addition to the team.
“I remember when Beau came on an official visit to Brown. She was just this bubbly, outgoing person, ” Miller wrote in an email to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “Without even knowing at the time how good she was at volleyball, I knew she'd be a great fit for the team. I told the coaches immediately that we needed to have her playing for Brown.”
“She is an elite learner,” Assistant Coach Taylor Virtue wrote in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “The way she pursues each goal ahead of her is inspiring to everyone lucky enough to be around her.”
In her sophomore season, Vanderlaan led the league with 1.35 blocks per set and a .473 hitting percentage, earning a unanimous First Team All-Ivy selection.
“This past year, I've learned a lot,” Vanderlaan said. “I've grown tremendously, especially in the leadership role, which is something very new to me, and very scary at first, but I'm really thankful I was able to experience that.”
“Beau brings a contagious energy onto the court that just uplifts other players,” Miller wrote. “She's developed into a crucial leader for the team, a steady voice on and off the court.”
Vanderlaan has big dreams for the rest of her Bears career, hoping to win yet another Ivy League Championship. But beyond that, she keeps her options open.
Virtue believes Vanderlaan “has as bright a future as is possible.”
“She has already cemented herself as one of the premier volleyball players in the Ivy League,” Virtue wrote. “I have no doubt that she will remain at the top of our league and will have the chance to make a splash on the national stage and beyond.”