After 14 years of high-level volleyball including ten in professional leagues around the world and over 80 internationals, Australian star, Rachel Rourke, says the time is right to walk away from her illustrious career.
She wanted to go on her terms and not be forced to retire because of injury; “I had a serious back injury two years ago. I didn’t want to finish with an injury, I wanted to go out on my terms.”
She managed to recover from that injury and subsequently made the Australian team, competing in the Asian Championships in September last year. “I’ve always played with the national team when I can. I really enjoy performing alongside these players.”
At a professional club level, Rachel has played in some of the strongest leagues in the world including the Polish League where she was named Most Valuable Player. “One of my most memorable moments was winning the Polish Championship. We had to win the last three matches to win the semi-final series, then again, we had to win the last three matches to win the grand-final in a best of five match series.”
Now at 31 years of age Rachel decided it was time to move to the next stage of her life. She’s playing her final club game on January 12, effectively signalling the end of her career.
There is probably little time for reflection as she juggles life with wife, former Australian captain Olivia Orchard, and five and a half month old daughter, Mila, as well as a new business. “I have started my own business making fermented tea ‘Kombucha’ which has origins in China,” says Rachel, “It’s a drink that has been around for 2,000 years. It is massive in the United States and is becoming very popular in Australia.”
Post volleyball life is already in full swing for Rachel, but she may not be completely lost to the sport. “I would like to have a break, but in the future I think I would like to do some volunteer coaching.”