January 25, 2014 in Washington Voices

University High School’s Kylie Collins balances basketball, volleyball

Steve Christilaw steve.christilaw@gmail.com
 
Jesse Tinsley photoBuy this photo

University High School senior Kylie Collins listens to girls basketball coach Mark Stinson during practice on Wednesday. Kylie is a starter on the Titan basketball team and also plays club volleyball and is on the Titan volleyball team.
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Playing a varsity sport demands a great deal of time and dedication. Playing two sports demands even more.

“Right now club volleyball is just starting up and I’m doing double practices – basketball after school and volleyball in the evening,” University High’s Kylie Collins said. “It takes a lot of time to play both sports and there are a lot of other things I could be doing. But it’s all worth it to me. I love the camaraderie with my teammates and the way my coaches have of pushing me to always be better.”

A 5-foot-10 starter at post in basketball and an All-Greater Spokane League second-team setter on a volleyball team that reached the state tournament, Collins is tired.

“I have no trouble falling asleep at the end of the day,” Collins said. “And I’m usually sore in the morning.”

Take Thursday as an example. University is in the midst of final exams, so classes let out at noon. That means the basketball team was able to get in an early-afternoon practice.

That gave Collins just a little extra time after practice. But while many of her teammates and classmates planned to grab a shower and head back to the school for the annual Battle of the Bone wrestling match with Central Valley – an event that rivals the annual Stinky Sneaker basketball spirit game with the Bears – Collins headed to practice with her club volleyball team.

The facts of life with both of Collins’ sports is the simple truth that both pretty much require a year-round commitment. To crack a varsity roster in volleyball, let alone a starting lineup, players must gain the experience offered by playing high-caliber club volleyball.

Same with basketball.

“When I’m playing I find myself making plays immediately, without thinking about them,” Collins said. “I’ve played so long that I just instinctively make the play. Afterward I look at what I did and have no idea why I did it. It’s just instinct.”

Summers, Collins admits, are particularly demanding. Both sports are heavily scheduled, often back-to-back every day.

“During the summer I’m going constantly,” she said. “I may get Sunday off, but that’s it. We go to tournaments, especially in volleyball. Tournaments in Texas, California and Nevada.”

From the time school lets out at the end of the year through the end of July, Collins said, it’s a constant, every-day grind.

That leaves just a couple of weeks to get ready for the start of the school volleyball practices in mid-August.

“I don’t know what to do with myself when I don’t have anything going on,” Collins sighed.

Training for both sports is complementary, but not necessarily similar.

“When I’m playing volleyball and having played basketball for a while, I can really feel it,” Collins said. “In volleyball, you play standing in one place – there’s not a whole lot of running involved. So when I take basketball back up, I’m pretty winded.

“In the off-season, I have to cross-train for both. I try to work out for one sport one day and the other sport the next.”

Collins said she fell in love with both sports early on. Unable to choose between the two sports, she decided to do both.

“I really started to play both in about eighth grade, but the intense commitment didn’t start until my freshman year,” she said. “Since then it’s been pretty much nonstop.”

The payoff?

A year ago the Titans placed sixth at the state Class 3A girls basketball tournament. The volleyball team reached the state tournament in November.

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