Former Ashland University volleyball player Alli Cudworth had the dream of playing volleyball internationally on her radar after getting the opportunity to play in a Global Challenge in citites throughout Europe while a student.
Now, she will have the opportunity to play full-time.
Cudworth signed a contract to play with Olympias Neapolis in Nicosia, Cyprus this upcoming season. The club plays in the Cyprus Volleyball Federation.
Her process started by playing in an adult volleyball tournament in Cleveland and speaking with other players who had played overseas. One of those players, former Wisconsin volleyball standout Deme Morales, recommended an agency that was able to find a connection to the club in Cyprus.
The process included Cudworth, who spent last season as a graduate assistant coach at Walsh Universsity, sending her volleyball resume, film and other information to the agency. Soon after, she was informed of a contract offer.
"It was very exciting," Cudworth said. "I wasn't expecting anything to happen so quickly. I was expecting to have a few options that weren't really great. But he found this team, they reached out with a really good offer, and I talked with my parents and my family.
"It works out really well," she said. "There are two other Americans going as well, so it's not like I'm going to be off on my own in another country. It's very exciting and a relief that it worked out the way I hoped it would."
Cudworth played for the Eagles from 2013-16 and twice earned CoSIDA Academic All-America honors and was named an AVCA All-American. She is one of just three players in program history with 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs. Cudworth helped the Eagles to two NCAA Tournament appearances in her career.
She credits former AU coach Cass Dixon for breaking down the game.
"When Cass was there, she did a really great job of not only training me to play, but play well, and she trained me to see the game better," said Cudworth. "She made sure that when I am playing, I'm not going through the motions and I'm actually thinking about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it."
Ashland also helped Cudworth see the value of playing in the team atmosphere, something that will be more important when playing alongside other players with vastly different backgrounds.
"Just Ashland in general prepared me for understanding the structure of how a team is supposed to work," Cudworth said. "Ashland is not just a school where you go and do the minimum to get by. It's a school that has high expectations whether it's in the classroom or on the court. Being held to those high standards will no doubt help me when I go overseas and play."
Cudworth's season will run from September through the middle of April. She will have 10 days off for Christmas, but other than that, it will be all volleyball, all the time.
"I'll see how I like it, if it's something I want to continue," Cudworth said. "If it does go well, I'd like to move up to a different area, a different league, so I can travel as well. That's one of the main reasons I want to do this. I want to get a worldview and world experience of traveling, playing volleyball and seeing the world."