This student-athlete is giving us something to cheer about, on and off the volleyball court.

This student-athlete is giving us something to cheer about, on and off the volleyball court

In the fall of 2017, Adelphi welcomed a new first-year student. She’s an environmental studies major deeply attuned to the earth and a force to reckon with in volleyball. She grew up in New York…but not exactly in New York. Her name is Sophia Powless, but her full greeting and identity as an Onondaga is “Nya weñha Skä noñh hothahyoñnίh ne’ nowa’wage’seye•deñh gaiye’ wagoñhsegéh Gañendawaks oñgyastha” (I thankful you are well, wolf clan is my clan, I am of the Longhouse, she shakes the hemlocks is my name).

“I was raised on the Onondaga Nation,” explained Powless. The Onondaga Nation, part of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, is geographically part of upstate New York but politically and culturally separate. “Culture is always enforced in our community,” she said.

Growing up on the Nation also instilled the importance of taking care of nature and giving thanks to the waters, the winds, the trees and everything in between. Now an environmental studies major, she said, “We were always taught to appreciate Mother Earth and how we have to take care of her.”

In high school, she had the opportunity to travel to Phoenix, Arizona, for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society National Conference. “Being surrounded by Native American scientists and hearing their stories was absolutely inspiring,” she said.

Power Player

Another passion for Powless is volleyball. She played club volleyball for her high school team, the Lafayette Lancers, and was named an All-State three-time honoree. “I’ve always been a very optimistic and energetic person, so volleyball is just a great way for me to let it out,” she said.

Powless is a middle hitter, which includes spiking and blocking on the court front and center. “If the other team has a good hit, you have to one-up them,” explained Powless. “I think that’s what I really like about the sport, the competitiveness of it and the whole energy and environment. There’s no waiting and there’s always something to cheer about.”

After graduation, Powless hopes to use her energy and optimism to make a difference for our planet, saying, “I want to be able to get hands-on experience and try to make an impact.”

For further information, please contact:

Todd Wilson
Strategic Communications Director 
p – 516.237.8634
e –

Phone Number
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Levermore Hall, 205
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