Through The Fire: The Second Act of Bre Moreland’s Life is Just Beginning
How many people have you met in your life who have told you that a firefighting career seems like a good fit? One? Maybe two? Three tops? Certainly no more than could fit on a single hand.
And yet it became an undeniable motif in Bre Moreland’s life: The firefighting thing just kept coming up.
Her coach at Cal State Fullerton would ask if she’d ever considered being a firefighter. Moreland would reply in that half-interested way a college athlete might: “Kinda, sorta, but I want to play volleyball for as long as I can.”
And so she would, serving as an outside on the Titans, where she averaged more than three kills per set as a junior. But somewhere in the background, a little above the subconscious level but not quite to the point of constantly in her thoughts, was the possibility of becoming a firefighter. Volleyball remained at the forefront, and Moreland continued succeeding, transferring to San Jose State to use up her final year of eligibility on the sand. Upon graduation, she took to the AVP, making a pair of main draws in 2016 with Jacqui Wood, and three in 2017 with three different partners.
And then it started coming up again.
“Someone’s husband was a firefighter and they said ‘Bre you have a great personality and presence, have you ever considered a career as a firefighter?’” Moreland, 27, recalled. “And I said ‘Ok, this is coming up too much, I need to really look into this.’”
She took a couple visits to stations, spoke with a few firefighters. It was all she needed.
“I immediately fell in love with it,” she said. “I called my mom and said ‘I think this is what I’m supposed to do. I love volleyball, I’m going to play as long as I can, but I think when I’m done and I’m ready to hang up the bathing suit, this is what I want to do.’”
It’s funny, too, the similarities. On the surface, volleyball and firefighting don’t seem to have much in common. The differences between the two are as difficult to miss as the red on a firetruck – different outfits, different settings, different objective, different stakes. And yet, look just below, and you’ll find that they’re not really much different at all.
“I love how everybody is pushing one another to be better,” she said. “We’re all working to achieve something towards the same goal. That was really exciting to me but I also love the idea of working or something that’s bigger than myself and working for others who aren’t really able to help themselves.”
And, just as it was with volleyball, nothing has come easy. It’s a rigorous system of tests that firefighters must pass in order to become a firefighter. Becoming proficient is a process, hardly any different than learning how to pass and set and hit and dig a ball.
“Having to take on this whole new education background – it’s a lot of information that you’re having to take on in a short amount of time,” Moreland said. “To be honest with you, I was impressed with myself that I was able to make the time and learn the material and pass the class and then pass the national exam. It still blows my mind that I did that. I’m very proud of that.
“It was very intimidating. I went to a couple different orientations for Los Angeles and Long Beach and just the path to actually getting hired – it’s overwhelming. In order to get through it I had to write it down like ‘Ok, let’s get through this phase, let’s get through this phase. Ok, now I get to go to the physical aspect of it, the testing aspect of it.’
“Getting through each phase of it is an accomplishment because it is overwhelming and it is a long process to get through. Taking it step by step is helping me do that.”
She’s still in volleyball, Moreland. Her training is a bit different, less focused on the fast-twitch speed of volleyball and more catered to the long grind that is firefighting. But the shift has begun, from one love to the next, one career to the next.
“I wanna look back and say I pursued volleyball for as long as I possibly could,” she said. “I left it all out there and now I am competing in a different way to continue to better myself and better those around me, to help those around me.”
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