Natalie Mullikin (‘08, MA ‘09) was a four-year veteran of the Wake Forest University women’s volleyball team, so she was naturally excited to get an e-mail offering an all-expense-paid trip to California to try her hand at beach volleyball.
She readily admits she’s much better on the hard court than the sand, but she wasn’t about to miss the opportunity. The offer came from the CSTV, the CBS college sports network, and AVP, which sponsors the nation’s professional beach volleyball touring series.
“I really had no idea what it was … they invited 16 girls for a long weekend to teach us the differences to transition from indoor to outdoor volleyball.”
She arrived late because she had to take an exam toward completing her MA in Management, at the Wake Forest University Schools of Business. When she arrived in California, the cameras were rolling for “Go Pro or Go Home,” a reality sports show.
“We get there and they tell us it was a reality TV show,” she said from her home near Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Some of the first players to arrive met the cameras as they stepped off the airplane.
“I guess they figured we wouldn’t come if we knew it was a reality TV show, and they were probably right. But I would have gone.”
The full, one-hour show aired during the last week in May and will air again on CSTV Thursday, June 4 at 7:00 p.m. A half-hour version is scheduled to air on CSTV the same night at 8:30 p.m. The players were placed on teams, and the winners got the chance to tour with AVP professionals.
Mullikin’s team, unfortunately, lost its first two matches and was eliminated from contention, which was held on the “deep, deep sand” of Hermosa Beach, Calif.
No big deal, she said. After all, the players not only received gear from the AVP but also got the chance to meet and train with some legends of beach volleyball, including Olympic gold medalists Kerri Walsh and Karch Kiraly.
In addition to volleyball, the participants, including Mullikin, a native of Lebanon, Ind., took part in several one-on-one interviews for the show.
“The cameramen were awesome and made it so much easier. There were a lot of interviews, but I got used to it and started having fun with it. I made it a big joke. That works for me,” she said with a laugh.
Mullikin said a career in professional volleyball is a risky proposition. The players can make a lot of money, but there are no guarantees. Mullikin’s undergraduate degree is in health and exercise from Wake Forest University, and now, coupled with her MA in Management degree earned this past May, she is focusing her job search on health-care consulting, pharmaceuticals and bio-technology.
Still, she is happy and grateful for her short time in the spotlight. The night the program aired, most of her family was out of town, so they gathered in front of a TV and exchanged text messages with Mullikin throughout the program, saying things such as “We’re famous!” and “We’re on TV!”
“They thought it was awesome,” she said.