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Michaels assisting on the court, at home
Cody Michaels has been playing volleyball for her entire life. From practicing her serves at backyard picnics to starting for Quinnipiac at Burt Kahn Court, Cody has always held the passion close to her heart.
Volleyball isn’t her greatest passion, however. Her real focus lies some 650 miles away in the city of Lexington, Ky. It isn’t in the form of a sport, or through art or music.
It’s in welcoming neglected children to her home.
Cody is a foster sister. She and her parents have been admitting mistreated children to their home since her sophomore year of high school. Since Cody was 13, the family has taken in about eight placements, admitted for a variety of reasons.
“We’re an open home,” Cody Michaels said. “They come in, they stay with us for one night, one weekend, couple months, before they either go back to their parents or go to a different home.”
“They’re kids that have been neglected, abused that need a place to go,” Cody added.
Karen Michaels, Cody’s mother and a licensed therapist, established the program to help children in need.
“I’ve worked with so many children that needed a good, solid place to stay,” Karen Michaels said. “We live on a farm, where there is that atmosphere where they can be safe and secure, and to meet their needs.”
Karen also said that the Michaels family started the foster home “to give Cody the opportunity to see that there were people in life that needed their help.”
The Michaels family received its first placement during Cody’s sophomore year of high school. The practice has continued since, despite Cody residing away at school and her status as a Division I athlete.
“It’s a whole new experience, it’s not what you expect,” Cody Michaels said. “I felt like I would be left out, but the amount of the time that you spend with these children, how much you learn about them and the system is amazing. I had no issue with them coming in because I’m helping them. It’s an eye-opening experience to what really is out there.”
Karen praised Cody for being so passionate about her involvement in foster care.
“She is amazing,” Karen Michaels said. “She has been passionate about children, caring for them, being there for them, the emotional support for them. She loves them, cries with them, is happy with them. Anything you can imagine.”
Although the Michaels family has housed about eight placements in the past four years, the process of holding children is not continuous or consecutive.
“If one kid comes and they leave, you don’t get another one,” Cody Michaels said. “It’s whenever they need you.”
Currently, the Michaels family only has one placement, who has been residing with the family for two years following abuse at home.
“My sister that’s with us now, her mom broke her arm,” Cody Michaels said. “She came to us, and now we’re the in the process of adopting.”
Cody has been an only child for her entire life, and not once did the thought cross her mind about having a sibling.
“Having her in my life for the past two years, I can’t imagine life without her,” Cody Michaels said.
Cody recalls other instances of spending time with the family’s placements, including one occasion when the Michaels took in a young baby.
“I came home one day and I heard a little baby crying and I was like, ‘That’s not my sister. That’s too young,’” Cody Michaels said. “I was so excited I called all my friends and I was like, ‘We have a new baby.’”
In crediting her desire to become involved in foster care, Cody points to her mother.
“My mom has been a big motivator in everything,” Cody Michaels said. “My mom did everything with me. She played volleyball with me. She set up camps for me.”
Attending Quinnipiac and competing for the women’s volleyball team this fall, Bobcats head coach Kristopher Czaplinski has seen Cody’s dedication transition from her foster home to the court, even as a young freshman.
“It’s the energy and the confidence, you don’t see that from many freshmen,” Czaplinski said. “Many freshmen across Division I, you don’t see them ready to come in and contribute. I had to recruit girls that were ready to play at this level right away.”
Though Czaplinski never saw Cody play in person prior to her collegiate career, the second-year head coach knew he was witnessing something special in the 5-foot-2 libero.
“Usually I don’t take anybody from a video, but as a coach, you can see within 30 seconds if they can play at this level,” Czaplinski said. “Even then, you’re still reluctant to take someone if you haven’t seen them play in person, but from what I saw in the video, there was no doubt in my mind.”
This season, Michaels has totaled 37 digs in 10 matches, good for third on the team. Michaels is also one of only three freshmen to play in every match this year.
Although Michaels has already enjoyed success for the Quinnipiac women’s volleyball team during her young career, she already has an idea of what her future holds; in this case, opening up her own home to those in need.
“I think that it’s going to be something I do,” Cody Michaels said. “I understand the system now. I understand its flaws. Now seeing what these kids go through, I want to help them. I want to be a safe haven for these children when I am older and settle down.”
“It’s fun to be a big sister. I love kids,” Cody Michaels said. “While it’s a big responsibility and time commitment, doing something to help these kids is something I’m interested in.”