Regan Pittman was bullied in middle school and high school before she turned into the aggressor on the volleyball court for the University of Minnesota Gophers.
The key turning point for Pittman was being honest with herself and understanding who she truly is. She’s taking her message to the masses now and hopes to help young volleyball players find their true selves quicker.
Pittman spent three days with the Central Lakes College volleyball team starting Tuesday, Aug. 17, hoping to develop leadership, team bonding and help the players become strong women.
“It all came out because I started as volleyball being my everything and I didn’t have anything outside of that,” Pittman said. “I learned to have myself come first and be my best self and then be the best teammate and then be the best athlete. I really reflected on my volleyball career and where I went wrong and how I can correct it for the young women in the sport.”
Pittman discovered she was playing with a mask. She struggled with accountability and deflected her problems onto teammates. She said a big key to her personal growth was owning her mistakes.
During her 2021 senior season at the U, Pittman didn’t make many mistakes. The 6-foot-5 middle hitter was a three-time Big Ten All-America and First-Team Big Ten selection. She finished the season averaging 1.48 blocks per set and concluded with 502 career blocks. She accumulated a .356 career hitting percentage and had 902 career kills. She ranked eighth all-time in career blocks and tied for third in career hitting percentage
After college Pittman started the Stand Tall Volleyball Academy.
“It’s a person-first based philosophy about teaching the individual to be a strong female and a strong warrior and then to be the best athlete they can be on the volleyball court,” Pittman said.
She brought her academy to the lakes area for a day and it was a roaring success said CLC head coach Jane Peterson
“I found out about Regan from Brooke Watland (a current CLC player) who knew her from school,” Peterson said. “I knew she was doing private lessons and meeting with groups so I called her up. She came in June and did a one-day camp, which was well attended and well received. We had a lot of girls come in and get their pictures taken with Regan. It was super fun.
“When she was here, I asked her if she would come back in August and she said yes.”
Peterson said while she can say everything Pittman is saying, having it come from an accomplished player and a Division I stand out makes the message more powerful.
“I just know that if I was 18 and someone like her would come and coach me I would be giggling,” Peterson said. “I would be nervous because it’s a big deal.”
Pittman knows her resume is one reason people listen to her, but she’s humble about her accomplishments. She knows first hand her message is strong, but loves the fact she’s teaching it through the vehicle of volleyball.
“It’s been amazing,” Pittman said. “I was bullied in middle school and high school and because I was able to have an outlet in volleyball I am able to look back at my career and see what were the defining moments and then understand those defining moments and help other kids go through those moments.”
At the University of Minnesota, Pittman learned to be a strong woman and lift other females up. She said she learned to be a warrior.
“If you’re not a warrior you aren’t going to make it through college athletics,” Pittman said. “Even though you have to be a warrior, it is such a payoff to be that warrior. You get so much in terms of a base to become a strong woman.
“A warrior is no matter how hard a situation is they don’t get disheartened and they do not lose sight of the goals they want to achieve. No one’s path is going to be the same toward that goal but to be a warrior it’s believing in that path and therefore going through with it.”
And her message to young girls hesitant to join a sport?
“Give it a try,” Pittman said. “If it doesn’t work for you and you don’t feel like you’re being supported then find another sport. Being a strong female is not about proving to people that you are better than them. It’s about proving to them that you are different. Even though you are a woman and you might go through different adversities than men, you can do the same things that they are doing. It might just be a little harder.
“Find that support group and be that strong athlete that people look up to. Even if that’s choir or music, be strong and dedicated and do what you want to do.”
The time spent with the CLC program and Peterson has also helped Pittman and solidified her overall goals and ambitions.
“I am learning that having a faith and a faith environment will help these girls develop so much more than volleyball,” Pittman said. “Just being a supportive, strong woman in the community is huge. You don’t realize that until you start talking to other people.
“Jane is a very strong, powerful woman in volleyball around here. I see how powerful she is when she’s willing to help other coaches and her understanding of girls that come to her program. That helps me understand why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
Pittman’s skills camps and leadership clinics can be booked through her website
Standtallvolleyball.com. She also has a scholarship fund called Earl’s Helping Paws, which helps all athletes get a chance to participate in one of Pittman’s clinics. For more information visit her website.