Allison Lambert always wanted to play
Division I athletics, but achieving that goal proved to be anything but easy.
By Robyne Baker
Photo courtesy of
“Working as my dad’s administrative assistant during the summer and on Christmas break. I’ve worked as a Huddle Leader at Abilene Leadership Camp for five years and do some speaking to FCA groups.”
Earliest FCA memory:
“Stuffing envelopes on our living room floor for an FCA golf tournament.”
Number of FCA Camps attended:
“More than 22. That includes tagging along with my family as a camper and as a Huddle Leader.”
Most memorable FCA moment:
“My family went to Sherman (Texas) FCA Boys Camp. It was my seventh birthday, and I was disappointed that my dad hadn’t gotten to say much to me all day. I was sitting in the back of a night meeting when, suddenly, every boy in the place stood, turned around and screamed the Happy Birthday song to me!”
As a kid, Allison Lambert used to hang out near the fields where her dad served as chaplain to the University of Texas football team. She observed how hard work and passion led to fulfilled dreams. But it was during her own climb to Division I volleyball that she experienced for herself the reward of perseverance.
Allison, a 6-1 senior from Austin, Texas, plays right side for the University of North Carolina-Asheville. Last year she recorded 353 kills and a .207 attack percentage. She led the Bulldogs in blocks with 112— historically, the ninth highest total in a single UNCA season.
LOVING THE SPORT
The daughter of Austin FCA Area Director, Reagan Lambert, and his wife, Debbie, Allison has been around FCA and sports practically her entire life. Growing up she enjoyed playing many sports: softball, basketball, track and volleyball.
In seventh grade, the private school Allison attended got its first volleyball team. Allison remembers that she was “one of the worst players ever” at that age, but was good enough to make the lowest team. But Allison grew to love the sport, and in eighth grade, she transferred to public school with A, B and C teams. Allison made the C team, which meant that at least 20 players were better athletes.
WHEN ODDS ARE AGAINST YOU
Allison worked hard and made the B team her freshman year—the only player from the eighth grade C team to do so. It was then that she knew volleyball was going to be her sport and that she was going to have to work even harder if she wanted to continue playing. To improve her skills, Allison played club volleyball for four years. She continued to work hard even when one coach told the B teamers that they would never be good enough to continue playing. That statement, along with a knee surgery at the end of the season, would have discouraged most players. But Allison refused to be “most players.”
“I couldn’t see myself not playing,” she says. “I had played sports my whole life. My motivation was that I loved it so much.” Eventually she became the only freshman B team player to make junior varsity. The JV coach appreciated her height and knew she was teachable. At the end of the year, the varsity coach told her she would probably continue on JV as a junior.
That summer, Allison packed her summer schedule with camps, worked on making her vertical reach higher and honed her other skills. And in the fall, Allison became one of only two JV’ers to make varsity as a junior. Not only did she start, but she beat out a girl with experience for the right side post—a position she hadn’t played before.
DIVISION I DREAM
The Lambert Family L to R:
Debbie, Reagan, Zach, Allison
This varsity success created a new dream for Allison. She wanted a volleyball scholarship to a Division I school.
“To be a Division I athlete was such an honor,” Allison explains. “I had been around D I athletes my whole life with FCA and with my dad working with UT. I can remember wanting to be like them.” Prior to her senior year, Allison was spotlighted by the Austin American Statesman as a “Senior to Watch” in Central Texas. As a senior, she made All-District and was recruited by nearly 20 Division I schools.
Allison picked Arkansas State University, where she started as a freshman. But a knee injury limited her play the last half of her freshman year. At the end of the season she had surgery to repair a tendon and remove a cyst. This type of surgery delayed immediate rehabilitation. Her leg was immobilized for six weeks, and she lost nearly all muscle and strength. She began her rehab with absolutely nothing to build on.
DEATH OF A DREAM?
After finally becoming ready for her sophomore season, Allison learned she had lost her starting position, and during the season she didn’t play much. She knew she could choose not to play anymore, take a medical redshirt and keep her scholarship. But Allison had experienced Division I action—the fans, playing in a large venue, the team’s passion for the game.
All of these made her want to play even more. At the end of her sophomore season, she met with the coach and communicated that she wanted to transfer so that she could keep playing started all over again, and she transferred to the University of North Carolina-Asheville.
RELIANCE ON GOD
“No matter what happens— injury, boyfriends, parents, sickness or living away from home—we have to rely on God.”
Allison credits two motivators that always keep her going: a supportive family and her faith in God. She relies on verses like James 1:2-4 to build her faith: “Consider it great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance...”
“No matter what happens— injury, boyfriends, parents, sickness or living away from home—we have to rely on God,” Allison says in her talks to FCA high school groups, also emphasizing her favorite Bible verses, Matthew 6:33-34: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
These verses gave Allison great comfort during her rehabilitation. Now, she uses them to encourage others. “Don’t worry about tomorrow,” she says. “Work to further the kingdom. Don’t worry if you’re going to play in the next game, going to start or get hurt. Just know that God will take care of it no matter what.”
Allison knows that this type of faith also requires action. She backs her faith with the perseverance to achieve her athletic goals—the kind dreams are made of.