Division I athlete Kelly Kyle a powerhouse for U.S. volleyball
By Robert Weinstock
Kelly Kyle, a first-time Deaflympian and NCAA Division I athlete, is already a formidable presence at outside hitter for the USA women’s volleyball team.
Kyle, of Crawfordsville, Ind., is no stranger to high-level play, having played at North Montgomery High School in Crawfordsville and the Team Indiana club team. She currently plays for NCAA Division I Butler University.
During her sophomore year at Butler, a Big East Conference school, Kyle played in 28 of the team’s 29 matches, amassing 70 kills, 22 assists, 155 digs, one block solo, and 12 block assists. This year’s Bulldogs team has just three seniors, so the 6’ 1” Kyle should get more playing time this fall.
During her international debut against Canada on Thursday, Kyle had 14 kills, two block solos, and two block assists to help push the U.S. to a 3-0 victory.
“I was very glad to get a nice first international win. … It was a good first match for getting out some of the nerves and jitters. I was very pleased with [Team USA’s] focus and determination,” she said.
Head coach Lynn Ray Boren and Kyle’s teammates say she already has been valuable to the team on- and off-court.
“Kelly is a great addition to this team with her humble attitude,” Boren said. “She has a natural vibe that enables her teammates to work exceptionally well with her. She has really helped to raise our level of play.”
“It's been an amazing experience playing with Kelly,” team co-captain Katelyn Reese said. “She’s an all-around, go-to player. I'm excited and honored playing next to a Division I player who is intelligent on and off the court, and watching her how she function(s) in meetings, practice and in games. We are fortunate to have her play with us.”
Adapting to international play
Kyle knows Team USA faces challenges in pool play, and she looks forward to both pool and playoff matches against Russia, Poland, Italy, Japan, and Ukraine.
“I know that Team USA has practiced hard together. If we bring our best volleyball to each [match], we can accomplish great things,” she said.
Asked about the difference between NCAA play and international competition, Kyle said, “In general, the difference might be that the international game has a bit slower tempo insofar as how high and how fast the ball is passed and set.”
Kyle has quickly assimilated international rules, with her teammates’ assistance, and says that in the final analysis, “It’s volleyball, the game we have all learned to play in one way, shape, or form.”
Learning a new language
Kyle is one of three new players on Team USA, along with Payton Brown and Jessica Ensign. She and Brown are new signers as well.
“I really appreciate that everyone has welcomed me with open arms and for that I am grateful,” Kyle said. “My teammates have been nothing but supportive of me and each other. I appreciate all the effort my teammates make to either slow down when signing, teach me new signs, or interpret instructions or drills when I don't quite understand … I am slowly but surely learning a bit of ASL each day, but I am nowhere near where I would eventually like to be.”
Kyle is in the physician’s assistant program at Butler and will receive her white coat this fall. She hopes to become an orthopedic physician’s assistant and, of course, continue her involvement with volleyball.
Her parents, Jean and Ron Kyle, are here in Sofia, and Kyle says she appreciates their support.
“For that, I am very grateful,” she said. “My parents have always been supportive and encouraging in both