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AMES — Iowa State volleyball player Genesis Miranda was scrolling through Facebook, watching and searching for posts in real-time as Hurricane Maria tore its way through her home country of Puerto Rico with 155 mph winds.

During her search, she came across a post. It was about her home town of Toa Baja, a city on the northern coast of Puerto Rico. Accompanying the post was a picture.

The picture was of her house.

“I didn’t even know that it was my house,” Miranda said. “I didn’t even know it was my family. I couldn’t sleep at all.”

Miranda went to volleyball practice the next day, trying to take her mind off of the hurricane.

“I went to practice and I didn’t know about my family at all,” she said. “I just tried to focus on volleyball but I couldn’t so I started crying in practice.”

She wasn’t able to practice the Wednesday or Thursday after the hurricane hit. But through it all her coaches and teammates were supporting her.

Last year before the NCAA Tournament, Miranda, an Evansville transfer, said, “This is why I came to Iowa State, to experience this feeling.”

Now she has a new reason.

“(My teammates) were very supportive,” Miranda said. “The coaches, they were asking me every day if I need help and everything. I’m really glad I’m here in this program.”

Finally, after about a week, Genesis got an update on her family. While nearly everyone in Puerto Rico didn’t have power or cellular service, the Miranda’s neighbor did.

He called Miranda and told them her family was okay.

Just recently, she was able to get in touch with her family.

“When I talked to them I was like, ‘Oh my God mom how are you?’” Miranda said. “My mom was like, ‘I was trying to call you.’ I said, “Oh you guys are fine, I really want to go to Puerto Rico and help and bring you some food.’”

Miranda’s family and their neighbors all shared what food they had left. But none of them had any batteries or source of power.

“I was relieved that they were okay but I was still nervous because they didn’t have food and other stuff,” Miranda said.

Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch has been amazed by Miranda and her mentality through it all.

“I think she’s had a wonderful attitude and continues to work hard,” Johnson-Lynch said. “I’m really proud of her for how she’s been able to – I’m not talking just volleyball wise – show a lot of resilience and perseverance and keeping her chin up despite the tough time.”


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