Our Stories

Telling the most compelling
stories from the
Conference of Champions

Q&A: Cal's Savannah Rennie is back on track again after second critical battle for her health

Editor's note: Below is an edited Q&A with Cal volleyball's Savannah Rennie, who shared her uplifting story of perseverance with Pac-12 Networks for an "Our Stories" feature. Watch the full hour-long episode of "Our Stories" on Dec. 9 on Pac-12 Network.

Pac-12 Networks: How do you feel out on the court right now?

Savannah Rennie: I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable. Right when you come back, it's obviously like, 'Woah. It's a big stage.' It's a lot to think about. But I'm starting to feel a lot more physically comfortable and just very excited to see where this can take me.

P12N: You're building back all these skills on the court and getting back to a normal life but to have it all stop a second time. What was that like?

SR: That was like the rug being taken out again. You get stood up again and someone comes over and knocks you right out. It was just so defeating. I was like – all that hard work that I put in for that year is gone. Everyone was like, 'No it's not.' But I was like, 'Yeah it is.' I was going to be out for a long time. It's back to square one. I was at rock bottom. It was below rock bottom – the Earth's crust at that time. There's no way it was not going to take me down that far... I just knew it was the lowest I could be, and the only way forward was to go up from there.

P12N: During your recovery, what did it do for you to come to practices and be around the team?

SR: It really helped keep my mind off of what was going on. Having a support system around me to make me laugh, to educate me in volleyball and have me be surrounded by people who love me. And who are willing to support me 24/7. It makes your day turn around each and every day. I think that's what really helped me.

P12N: What role would you say volleyball played in your recovery?

SR: Definitely like a rock. It was something I could always go to in order to not think about what was really going on in my life. I could think about volleyball – and volleyball only. It has always been there for me. It's like a stabilizer. If I didn't have volleyball, I don't know what would happen to me.

Savannah Rennie
Martina Cisneros/Pac-12 Networks Newsroom

P12N: What's your perspective on what you've gone through? Twice. That's pretty incredible.

SR: Everyone keeps telling me, 'You act like nothing's ever happened.' If I get mad at myself on the court or off the court, being disappointed in myself, they're like, 'You've accomplished so much. You've come back from two things that usually people never come back from.' And I'm like, 'Yeah, but to me, that's what I was meant to do.' I've always been a fighter — from day one. I've always been a competitor. ... I do feel accomplished. But I don't feel accomplished yet in a sense that I want to make a bigger impact here at Cal. I have so much more I want to achieve. 

P12N: What's next for you? What are your aspirations now?

SR: I want to finish my career here at Cal healthy and be able to make a bigger impact for this program that will be lasting. And then I want to go on and play professionally overseas. Having three years of volleyball taken away from your life, I want to continue to play as long as possible. And even go into coaching. And maybe even get an assistant job here — volunteer. Volleyball is my passion, and I hope to continue being in this field for a really long time.