Star volleyball player stays committed to team despite injury


Photo Courtesy of Kirsty Star

The varsity volleyball team pushes Kirsty (center) in a wheelchair at the Color Run 5k in Alameda on Saturday, Oct. 28.

Nina Schmidt, Editor-in-Chief

Veteran varsity volleyball player Kirsty Star has declined to play in college but stays committed to the team despite an ACL injury.

Star officially began playing volleyball in fifth grade on Saint Rita’s CYO team, but unofficially she’s been playing since first grade.

“My older sister, Rhiannon, also did CYO,” Star said, “When she was in fifth grade, I was in first, and I went to all of her practices and games and was basically on her team.”

Although Star has been playing volleyball for years, it’s not the only sport at which she’s excelled. According to Star she’s also played varsity soccer and swam in high school.

Despite her prowess at other sports, she decided to prioritize volleyball both because of her skill and because it was the sport she enjoyed the most.

A varsity captain her freshman year, Star has been an important figure in volleyball here. While being a captain her first year on the team might have been overwhelming for some, Star credits the volleyball program for making it a role she was comfortable filling.

“The volleyball program has been good about not labeling you as your grade. We’re all just members of the team,” Star said. “When I joined as a freshman my teammates still expected the best out of me. I was expected to work just as hard as anyone and still have an influential role on the team even though I was a freshman.”

Star believes that her role as a captain was warranted.

“When I started playing, the coach recognized that I was one of the leaders in the team skill wise, so he didn’t see anything wrong with making me a captain,” she said.

Going from a freshman on varsity to the only senior is a big change, but the transition has felt natural to Star.

“I’m enjoying the leadership role of being the only senior on the team but it also doesn’t feel like a big deal that I’m the only senior,” she said. “I expect a lot out of everyone. Sometimes it’s hard not having another senior on board with me to push the players, but I think the junior captains do it just as well.”

Ultimately, the difference in class doesn’t have an effect.

“Players are players, team members are team members,” Star said, “There’s no differentiation between us.”

As a varsity member and team captain since freshman year, many had the expectation that getting scouted and playing volleyball in college would be the natural next step. However, this isn’t what Star has decided for herself.

“I’m not playing volleyball in college which is sometimes still a shock to me,” she said, “I could play at a Division II or III level, I know my capabilities. I could maybe even play at the Division I level, but sophomore year I was on an intense club team that had sophomores committing to colleges and that really overwhelmed me.”

Star says she felt that she couldn’t have committed so early on because she didn’t know what she wanted in a college.

“I still have some of that feeling as a senior,” she said, “I want to choose the school for the school and not for the volleyball program.”

According to Star her parents have been supportive of her decision.

“It was a hard decision, and I still think about it a lot,” she said. “I’ve been really lucky in that my parents have been supportive of my decision and have told me to choose what I want and not to worry too much about money.”

But this doesn’t mean the end of volleyball for her.

“I’m definitely going to keep playing volleyball at the intramural or club level, but ultimately I want to experience college as a normal college student and not a student athlete,” she said.

Injuries are common among committed athletes here and on Oct. 19 Star joined the ranks of the many student athletes who have fallen victim to torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL).

The injury occurred on senior night and Star, being the only senior, was the center of attention.

“Ten minutes before it happened I was feeling so thankful and lucky,” she said, “I received flowers and they read a really nice speech.”

A few minutes into the game the score was tied 8 to 8.

“I went up for a set that was tight to the net.” Star said, “Because of that, it wasn’t a normal approach.”

She went up for a set and because of the abnormality of the approach Star jumped and ended up landing only on her left leg.

“Sometimes landing on one leg is completely fine but for some reason this time it wasn’t.” she said, “My knee buckled and I felt a pop.”

Star says she immediately knew something was wrong.

“I thought oh my God, I just tore my ACL.” she said, “My initial feeling was shock, not pain. It was heartbreaking.”

On Oct. 24 an MRI confirmed that Star’s ACL is completely torn. She is scheduled to have surgery Nov. 22.

Despite the fact that she’s out for the season, Star remains a part of the team. The volleyball team completed the Color Run in Alameda on Oct. 28, and Star continues to show support at practices and games.

“My team has been so kind and supportive,” she said, “It’s hard to sit on the sidelines, but they are so worth it.”