Both on and off the beach volleyball court, Berklee Andrews is defying the odds and inspiring her community.
The Lake-Sumter State College (LSSC) student athlete was born with Symbrachydactyly, a congenital condition affecting the development of hands and/or feet. In Berklee’s case, the condition left her without a part of her left arm, buy Berklee has never let the absence of a wrist and hand hinder her pursuit of excellence in both academics and sports.
Berklee’s journey began in Seguin, Texas, where she was born to Jim and Dana Andrews in a sports-oriented family with older siblings Brock and Kyndall.
Brock played baseball and Kyndall played volleyball. And, of course, Berklee wanted to be just like them. With her siblings serving as role models, Berklee came to embrace life with a condition that made her unique.
“This has been my normal since the day I was born,” Berklee says. “I learned to crawl, eat and function the way I know normal to be.”
Undeterred by her condition, Berklee followed in the footsteps of her brother and sister, participating in sports and developing a resilience that shaped her future.
Berklee’s warm, vibrant personality and beaming smile draw people into conversation, and her never-quit attitude inspires others to pursue their dreams.
“Never limit yourself in life,” Berklee says. “If you have a passion, go for it. Once you go after that passion, embrace it.”
Berklee showcased her skill as a standout high school athlete and earned a four-year letter in both volleyball and softball. Unfazed by her physical condition, she excelled in sports and earned acceptance to Texas Tech University to study business.
And yet, the call of the sand court beckoned.
After graduating high school in 2022, she missed playing volleyball, so she decided to play with a paralympic team during the summer before her freshman year of college.
The coach of the paralympic team, Neal Stanley, who also happened to be the head beach volleyball coach at LSSC, was so impressed by Berklee that he invited her to play for the Lakehawks. Berklee transferred in 2023, midway through her freshman year.
For Berklee, it was love at first sight. And her impact on the team was immediate and profound. Her skill and infectious personality drew attention and admiration from teammates, competitors and community members alike.
Despite facing challenges that would daunt many, Berklee became a source of inspiration by embodying the belief that passion and determination can overcome any obstacle.
In her second and final year at LSSC, Berklee reached new heights when she was named captain of the women’s beach volleyball team for the upcoming 2024 season. Her leadership, coupled with her prowess on the sand, solidified her role as a beacon of inspiration for her teammates and the public.
During the summer, photos of the Lakehawks’ beach team sparked curiosity and admiration from the local community. The question echoed through the region: “Who’s the girl playing beach volleyball with one arm?”
Berklee’s story of resilience and triumph demanded to be shared.
Berklee, majoring in business, has grand plans beyond college. She aspires to join USA Volleyball’s Beach ParaVolley Team and compete in the 2032 Paralympic Games.
While the sport has not been included in the 2024 or 2028 Paralympic Games, Berklee remains optimistic about its future inclusion, and her determination to represent the United States on the global stage is unwavering. Her ambition and natural leadership qualities position her as a potential star in the world of paralympic sports.
Until then, Berklee will be training at the Hickory Point Beach Sand Volleyball Complex, the official national training site for USA Volleyball, as she adds to a story that transcends sports and serves as a testament to the power of perseverance, passion and the human spirit.
Berklee Andrews, with her radiant personality and indomitable spirit, is not just an athlete but a true inspiration who reminds us all to reach for our dreams regardless of any challenges we may face.