Meet your student-athlete: Vail Christian’s Kendelle Smith
We interrupt our pageant of the return of spring sports to remind you that fall sports are still going.
Happy state week, Vail Christian.
Yes, it’s a little weird that the Saints are playing at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, instead of the Denver Coliseum. And it hurts our brain that state is in May, as opposed to November.
It’s still state and it’s absolutely amazing that the Saints are here, much less that Vail Christian volleyball is undefeated (11-0). The Saints drew the No. 5 seed and will play No. 4 Fowler on Wednesday at 2 p.m. (NFHS.com will broadcast the tourney.)
With the Saints in state, we rang up Kendelle Smith to talk some volleyball. She’s No. 1 in your programs and one of your favorite 12 volleyball players in Eagle County. Not giving away the game plan too much, but Fowler better have a block ready for Smith.
For more on Kendelle, read on:
Birthday: Oct. 18, 2002.
Kendall is not an unusual name. How did you end up spelling it Kendelle? “It’s just the way my mom wanted it. She was shooting for Elle as a nickname.”
Parents: Craig and Lenee Smith.
Siblings: Addison, 20, at Baylor, Battle Mountain Class of 2019, and Presley, frosh. Battle Mountain Class of 2024. (This is an athletic family. Addie played soccer for Battle Mountain and Presley runs cross-country and track)
Sports you play: Volleyball and track and field.
Sports and COVID: “There have definitely been a lot of tough hurdles and then we were rebuilding our team as well.”
The team was 0-19 in 2017 and you’re at state in 2021. What was the turning point? “Probably when Adina [Petersmeyer] came on [as head coach]. She’s built up a much more positive, encouraging atmosphere.”
How has Petersmeyer helped the program? “One, it’s encouragement. She’s always encouraging us. She doesn’t punish us. She’s always encouraging us and believing in us. Second, she does a real good job of reminding whom we’re playing for. We’re playing for God and our teammates. Her faith background is important and really helps us.”
What do you love about volleyball? “It’s the team. You have to depend on each other. We’re all there to play and we have to work together.”
Since the Saints have three starters named Grace, are you disappointed you’re named Kendelle? “I’m not too disappointed. It would be cool, though, if we were all Graces.”
Best moment in volleyball: “Probably regionals because that’s when it hit us. We’ve grown up so much and we really have the potential to go far. It was a cool moment.”
Most embarrassing moment: “I’ve definitely had a couple of missteps. My freshman year, I definitely missed the ball when I was hitting. Just little things like that.”
How fun was it to have fans back? “I love it. I think fans are necessary. You need that energy in the room. It helped a ton, especially when the guys get into it with the other team’s fans.”
How do you prepare for state? “We’re still going hard in practice. We’re trying to prepare mentally to give 100 percent. I’m encouraging the team no matter what we go through.”
College plans: Colorado State.
Favorite social media: Instagram and Tik Tok.
Favorite movie: Little Women.
Favorite book: Boys in the Boat.
Favorite foods: Pasta and sushi.
Favorite drinks: Sweet tea or coffee.
Favorite pizza slice: Canadian bacon and pineapple.
Favorite types of music: Folk and acoustic.
Favorite groups: The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons.
If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? Aspen.
Powder day. Where do you ski? Blue Sky Basin.
COVID’s over. You can travel anywhere. Where do you go? “I was supposed to take a mission trip to Nepal, so maybe there.”
If you were ruler of the world for one day, what would you do? “I would probably have money, so I would travel to as many places as I could.”