Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Miki Jauhiainen’s path to BYU volleyball

BYU volleyball’s Miki Jauhiainen finished his senior season as top performer on the court and in the classroom.

The middle blocker grew up in Tampere, Finland, and started playing volleyball around age 10 after watching his dad and older sister play. Finland doesn’t have organized sports in most schools, so he started playing in a club. Later, he was able to attend a high school that had a volleyball team.

“You have to specifically go to a high school that has your sport,” Jauhiainen explained. “So I went to one of those, and it was basically our junior national team. We all went there to school so we could practice together and then went to tournaments.”

Jauhiainen decided that after high school, he wanted to attend university and continue playing volleyball. Universities don’t have athletic teams in Finland, so playing a sport and attending school is difficult. Jauhiainen decided to come to the U.S. so he could do both.

“I could have tried to just go pro, but I wanted to keep studying and get some kind of degree because it’s important,” Jauhiainen said.

He knew a Finnish coach who had played and coached in the States and who would have helpful connections.

“I just I asked him, ‘Hey, can you send out an email for me? Just let whoever you know that I’m looking for a team,'” Jauhiainen said.

He was then put in contact with Luka Slabe, one of BYU’s assistant coaches from 2015-18. He decided to attend BYU because out of the three schools that reached out to him, it was the only one that needed a middle blocker, didn’t have to wait for more test scores and was affordable.

BYU’s bench watches as Miki Jauhiainen serves the ball during the Cougars’ match against Pepperdine on Feb. 8. (Hannah Miner)

The transition to BYU was smoother than expected for Jauhiainen. He was excited to be in a different country, meet new people and experience a new culture. He said that attending high school away from home made the change easier.

“I was expecting to start missing home or something like that,” Jauhiainen said, “but the team was great, we went right into playing because I got here in December, so the season started right away. I was just playing volleyball, it was just like any other road trip at first.”

Jauhiainen’s family was supportive of him throughout his journey.

“They watch all the games as soon as they wake up in the morning,” Jauhiainen said. “My grandma stays up all night watching the games, which is amazing. And my dad always texts me like, ‘Hey, you did good, you could improve here.'”

Jauhiainen had career totals of 283 blocks and 196 kills, with a hitting percentage of .382. He started in 17 games during his senior season and earned 101.5 points and had 72 blocks, 21 digs and 61 kills. Assistant coach Devin Young said that Jauhiainen works hard and is always focused.

“That’s the biggest thing about Miki; he’s a guy who’s out there, getting his stuff done on and off the court, working as hard as he can in school, working as hard as he can on the floor,” Young said. “He’s great at leaving outside distractions behind as he comes into the gym, asks a lot of really good questions, pays attention to all the coaching that he receives and he’s always working on new skills to get better at.”

Miki Jauhiainen grins at teammates Zach Eschenberg and Wil Stanley during BYU’s match against Concordia on Feb. 20. (Hannah Miner)

Not only did the computer science major excel in volleyball, but he also he excels in academics. He has received MPSF All-Academic honors for the past two years after earning a 4.0 GPA. Head coach Shawn Olmstead said Jauhiainen is the best example of what it means to be a student athlete.

“Miki’s just an outstanding influence on each one of our guys,” coach Olmstead said. “He’s an outstanding student, every single day he’s got his schedule prioritized, he takes full advantage of every minute of every day. He understands that he’s here to get an outstanding education to be a great representative of BYU, and he’s a pretty good volleyball player that works really hard.”

Jauhiainen said he has a lot of good memories from his time at BYU. He recalled moments when BYU was down 2-0 and came back to win the match, and said he really enjoys every home game. One of his favorite memories was during his freshman year, when the crowd stormed the court.

“That was one of my first games, and I was just like, ‘This place is insane. I love it,'” Jauhiainen said.

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