Angelica Crump is not your average student. Not only is she an extremely successful athlete, but she has also had to face tragedy in her life. At the age of 15, her father passed away from a pulmonary embolism.

Her father, George Crump, played college football for East Carolina and after college, moved to the NFL to play professional football with the New England Patriots as a defensive end in the early 1980s. However, a knee injury shortened his time with the Patriots, causing his career to end after just two seasons.

Crump attributes much of her volleyball career to her father. Crump says her dad never let her stay still for long and because of that she was always involved with sports as a child. Crump says her father helped her become the athlete she is today. “He always pushed me. He was always around with my sports,” Crump said. “I always knew that it was in me.”

Crump started playing volleyball right before her father passed away. She said she was awful at volleyball when she first started, but he told her to stick with it and joked that maybe she could make it big someday. Now, she wishes that he could see her now.

The Atlanta native had an incredible sophomore campaign in 2011, earning AVCA All-America Honorable Mention and first-team all-region honors. This past season, the outside hitter led the Knights in kills.

“It’s just weird to know that I did make it somewhere. And sometimes it does hurt, because I would love for him to see what we actually talked about,” she said. Losing her father helped her look at life from a new perspective.

“I think it was sophomore year when I just woke up and thought life is short. Death is so unexpected and I feel like I learned to take advantage of opportunities. It made me realize to do things you love because you never know what going to happen and you need to take risks.”

Because Crump knows what her father went through as an athlete, she knows how quickly everything can change because of something like an injury. She says that has helped her realize that she wants to pursue something different after college.

“That’s one thing that kind of scares me about being an athlete. He really focused on just being an athlete and then his career didn’t go the way he wanted to and it really affected him.”

Since her father’s death, Crump says she is even closer to her family than ever before.

“Being an athlete, we do go through our ups and down and honestly I don’t even know what I would do without them. I tell my mom everything. Sometimes I don’t think I would stay sane if it wasn’t for her.”

This story appears in the March issue of Knights Insider magazine.