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Senior spotlight: Hande Yetis’ journey from Turkey

Volleyball setter Hande Yetis has several achievements under her belt such as making the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll (2022). Photo courtesy of UTEP Athletics

To professionally hit a home run out of a ballpark, shoot a three-pointer on a basketball court or even catch a pass in a football game are some activities sports lovers dream of doing. Some try everything they can to get a chance to make it in professional sports, as well as those interested in college-level sports.  

It can be a significant dream for someone to not only be able to pursue higher education for free or almost free but also play their favorite sport for their desired university.  

For Hande Yetis, a setter for the UTEP volleyball team, she got to pursue both her love of academics and sports.   

This will be Yetis’ last year with the program as she will graduate with her degree in industrial manufacturing and system engineering with a minor in mathematics. With an impressive four years with the program, Yetis has made many achievements throughout her UTEP career. She has made the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll (2022), ranked second on her team and assisted her freshman, sophomore and junior years. She has also played over 170 matches at Gelism College High School and is a three-time invitee to the Turkish National Volleyball Team. Yetis details her time growing up in Izmir, Turkey, and the difference she experienced over 6,000 miles away in her new home of El Paso, Texas.   

“The culture is a huge difference from Turkey and here,” Yetis said. “When I got here for my first year, I was culture shocked. I still don’t remember my first year because it was so different. Like religion is different and the people are different, but I love El Paso because the people here are friendly; it reminds me of my home because they are also friendly.’”   

Yetis has one brother but grew up in a huge family. She had many siblings and relatives on both her parents’ side of the family. Growing up in her house, she was never alone, continually running into someone no matter which corner you turned. Yetis speaks on how family is a big part of Turkey.  

“I used to live with my grandma because we have huge respect for older people, and we always visit them,” Yetis said. “If we can live with them, we live with our grandparents because we love being around each other; it’s so fun.”   

Although it is hard to believe, Yetis did not think about volleyball until someone took notice of her height. From there, Yetis was off to the races, enjoying the running and physical nature of the sport.   

“I wasn’t thinking about it at all (volleyball),” Yetis said. “When I was in second grade, my first club coach came to my primary school, and he was best friends with my Physical Education teacher. And he was like, “Oh, you’re tall; you can play volleyball,” and I was like, “What is volleyball?”.   

From there, Yetis attended many practices, building up her physical stamina. As she began to pick up what to do and how to do it all, fifth grade rolled around, a defining time on her volleyball journey.   

“So, when I was in fifth grade, I was like, ‘Yeah, I love playing, and I started getting scholarships from private middle schools and high schools,’” Yetis said. “That’s why I graduated from both private schools and got a scholarship for my volleyball and academics.”   

Yetis’ passion for volleyball also bleeds into her academics, and one of the top reasons she chose to attend UTEP was its engineering program. She also details her love for math and numbers and why she is drawn to subjects like these.   

“I learned about all the AP courses in high school, and I was like, yeah, I’m going to be an engineer,” Yetis said. “I saw UTEP as a top 100 (engineering) program in the country, and I saw a lot of projects going on here in their amazing program. I love numbers; they are my passion; even if I can’t solve them, I love problem-solving.”   

A part of Yetis’ love for being a setter comes from problem-solving and helping lead the court during stressful sets.   

“I love being a setter; it’s a lot of problem-solving and running,” Yetis said. “Like if you’re a setter, you’re a leader in the court because you have to communicate with everyone and listen to your coaches.”   

Yetis speaks to her love for the El Paso community and what being a part of the UTEP Volleyball team has given her.   

“I love them,” Yetis said. “Like, I have a lot of people that’re going to make me come back because they’re my family right now. My teammates are amazing, and the transfers, they’re my family.”  

Yetis and the rest of the UTEP volleyball team will face off against the UNT Mean Green in the first match of the National Volleyball Invitational Championship Friday, Dec. 1 at Memorial Gym. 

H. Catching Marginot is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected]. 

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About the Contributor
H. Catching Marginot
H. Catching Marginot, Contributor/Writer
Henry Catching Marginot is a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in English: rhetorical studies. He is a contributor at The Prospector and freelances. He plans to pursue writing in the future.
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